About a year ago, I started writing here.
“Coincidence? I think not!”
It’s been a crazy, grief-filled few months for both my counselor and me, so we haven’t been able to meet regularly for a while. We caught up yesterday, and I was struck by our conversation. It felt a bit like the final scene of Seinfeld: “Haven’t we had this conversation before?”
I heard myself talking about my lack of time to myself, my loss of identity, my roles defining me, my struggle to find a hobby, a passion, something I love. We talked about my struggle to grasp the idea of God’s imminence.
We talked about “self-care,” and I admitted that the phrase makes me cringe. This summer, as we’ve gone through the tiring process of preparing our home to sell, my body sent me crystal clear signs that it was tired and stressed. I saw my doctor about heart and breathing issues. I got shingles. I was living off of my kids’ snacks, large chunks of cheese, and beer. I knew I wasn’t taking care of myself like I should, but I honestly thought I was doing okay at managing my stress. And even though the last time we had talked, my counselor and I talked about “stress points,” like job changes, moving, etc., I still didn’t fully identify myself as “stressed.”
I told him that “self-care” falls into the category of “soft” things that make me uncomfortable. I’m such a highly functioning person. That’s why my stress often doesn’t stand out clearly to me. I can still perform my duties. I’ll still show up (unless I have stress-induced shingles…or a migraine). I’ll still do what’s expected of me. I’ll still try to please you.
Admitting I need to take care of myself requires me to admit that I have weaknesses. I can’t do everything. I can’t please everyone. I can’t show up for everything. I have limitations. I might disappoint people. I might have to choose between two really good things. I’ll have to find someone to watch my kids for me. I’ll have to ask for help.
And then, as if all that isn’t enough, I’ll have to figure out what self-care looks like…for me. And that overwhelms and paralyzes me.
My counselor encouraged me to be curious, to explore, to try, to make messes, to spend some money, to loosen up a bit. He asked me to think about the times in my life, the situations, experiences, etc. that made me come alive. I told him nothing came to mind. I told him what I really want is for someone else to tell me what those times were. I want them to tell me what to pursue and I’ll do it. I’ll perform. I’ll do my best. I’ll try to please them.
Instead of throwing his hands in the air and shouting, “Damn, girl! You just don’t get it!” (Which I kind of want to yell at myself right now), he said, “That sounds like a good conversation to have with the people closest to you. Maybe sitting down with a good friend who has walked through life with you and seen you grow and change and “come to life” would be just what you need. They might not have the answer for you, but maybe a conversation like that is the next step in this journey.”
So here we are. Right back where we started a year ago. But I’m not the same person. Not even close. Even I can see that.