I have been so busy making a living and making sure everyone around me is living that I’ve lost sight — again — of living my best life, not only what that looks like for me but also how everyone is better off when I am showing myself some love and attention. What I forget is that making a living and making sure everyone else is living is actually easy when I’m taking care of me first and foremost. I’m not going to beat myself up over this. The fact that I can come to this realization on my own and make the decision to adjust my choices is worthy of thunderous applause. Truly.
Today is the last day of the vacation that wasn’t. My kids were away at camp the past two weeks and I attempted to close the office. It didn’t work. I spent the time my kids were away doing absolutely nothing I wanted and everything others needed. Sure, I got in a few training runs. My husband and I took the puppy for his first swim and we went out to dinner for the most incredible burgers. But. But, but, but. I didn’t spend a day at the beach. I didn’t spend any time on recovery coach training. I didn’t write. I didn’t get clear on my priorities. Or, did I?
I just did 20 loads of laundry in 30 hours. With a fever. I cleaned out the kids’ drawers and closets and underneath their beds. I woke so sore this morning I had to ice my back and pop a couple of Tylenol just to get out of bed. I felt broken and defeated and unaccomplished. In the 24 hours since the kids have been home, I’ve already lectured both of them about entitlement, gratitude, and respect. I’ve dropped F bombs. I’ve had my feelings hurt by the tween.
My husband has offered to help and in response I’ve only complained more, explaining to him that I’m not working off a to-do list and can’t pass off tasks when the plan is just to keep moving until everything is done, to just put the house in order so I can focus in the office tomorrow. And, acting all martyr-ish with plenty of chores left to complete, I begrudgingly took the teen and his friend to a local park to go fishing and swimming. The guys could be here by themselves. They’re old enough. But I’ve heard stories about what goes down at this place. We stopped for iced coffee along the way and I brought my notebook and beach chair. There isn’t a cloud in the sky and there’s practically no one here. There are bullfrogs twanging like rubber bands in the pond, birds singing, and the softest breeze tickling the hairs on my arms. The sun is roasting the fronts of my legs and bare feet.
And, I’m clear. It took about three point seven seconds in this place for me to get clear. Today is the last day of vacation. So, I am just going sit and do what I cannot do tomorrow when it is no longer vacation. I’m clear that my mood and perspective are infinitely better when I do the following things: run, walk, write, sit outside, breathe in fresh air, touch the earth with my bare feet, watch the sun shine down on my kiddos … I absolutely must take care of myself first, long before I even think about meeting others’ actual demands as well as the demands I perceive they’re making of me. This is the biggest lesson I have learned in recovery. I forget it all the time. Each time I remember it, I feel more empowered than ever before. Each time I learn the lesson in a new way I feel gratitude deeper than I ever imagined possible. I am so lucky to have opened myself to what the universe presents. While I don’t live in the moment all the time — sometimes it’s just not possible — I’m doing it more than ever and … gotta run, my kiddo just caught a fish!
Why are we only “worthy” when we have “achieved” and “produced”? Why is taking time for ourselves only allowed if it is in the form of a reward? Why isn’t it normal? My husband has been away fishing for two days, and I spent one day reading (wonderful) and the next day feeling guilty and cleaning the house. How do we get over this? And why are you cleaning your kid’s rooms, and why am I obsessed that I need to clean the oven and defrost the freezer, plus finish my work to-do list before I allow myself to look forward to the first vacation we have had in six years? How do we stop this thinking? Seriously. that was no rhetorical, I need to know!
Oh, Jackie, I love you! I read your comment the day you posted it and cannot thank you enough for your patience in waiting for me to reply. Why, indeed! Why must we suffer and struggle and clear away the shit before we can come up for air? I know this cycle is what most definitely contributed to my drinking. It is something that has been a problem for me for a long time. I get stuck in this space where I feel I won’t be able to take full advantage of the break or the relaxation or whatever thing it is that’s supposed to be for me if I haven’t first taken care of everyone else – family, clients, etc. – so there’s nothing distracting me. Yet, I know perfectly well that doing something for myself only makes everything else easier. So much easier. So much lighter, So much less stressful. We have got to stop thinking of self care as a reward or a prize we are required to earn. Self care should be on the to do list, right along with all the obligatory stuff like work and chores – not so that it becomes a chore, but so it simply becomes something we must carve out time to do. Because if it’s not on the to-do list it’s optional – out of sight, out of mind – and, if it’s optional, we are going to do every single other thing (from the important to the inane) before we get to the part where we look out for ourselves and fill our own buckets. The past two weeks, I have actually written my to-do lists with time slots attached to each task. It’s working. I’m strategically organizing and creating chunks of time for the things on the list. I’m establishing boundaries for each thing I need and want to get done so there is always time for the one thing each day that’s just for me. It’s not easy but it is so very worth it. XOXO