I used to think that my environment did not affect me. I thought I was easy-going; a roll with punches type of person. You know, “low-maintenance.”
By now, any person who knows me in real life is dying of laughter because it is so obvious to anyone who spends more than five minutes with me that I am not remotely any of these things.
Talk about a disconnect from reality.
In true fact, I am a very particular sort of person. Particular being a euphemism for anal retentive in the extreme. Also, I have very low noise and mess tolerances.
Of course, having four children and a husband (and being in relationship with people in general) makes it super impossible to have my life run exactly the way I would like it, when I would like it.
As a result, I want to bomb my entire house, scream at my children for not being obedient automatons, and war with my twin desires of FOMO Hoarder and Strict Minimalist Where Everything has Its Place.
Guess which side “wins”?
Then, because I am constantly behind on doing stuff (like purging, putting things away, finally USING things I’ve put away, or all the projects I have in my queue), I procrastinate because FFS there is no way I will ever get to anything or make a dent so I might as well read a romance novel or watch Project Runway or let’s be real, FRITTER AWAY MY LIMITED FREE TIME ON FACEBOOK.
This all builds up and annoys me and soon, I am swearing at my kids for being a smidge too loud or for doing whatever squirrelly thing they’re doing. And then I go on a brief and short-lived Angry Cleaning Purge and I am placated for about half a day before we rinse and repeat.
The thing is, sometimes, I think the only way I can get a bead on all this shit in my mental queue is to send my entire family away for at least a year so I can finally get something done.
Even then, I’m sure I’ll procrastinate and save it all for the last week before they’re due back.
I realize that this is the curse of human existence and being temporal beings. But this seems far more like a bug than a feature in my unasked for opinion.
Now, I know I have mentioned before that I am so mediocre that it took paying my therapist $150 (now $160) a week for her to tell me to just do 15 minutes of stuff a day and see how that helps.
I have improved drastically at paying medical bills on time (because those are the only bastards that are not on auto-pay). My kitchen table takes an extra week to look like an utter disaster area. And I am making more of an effort to do the shitty stuff first.
And STILL, it does not move. Or at best, it gets shifted from room to room.
For the longest time, my therapist, Dr. T, would ask me about self-care and I would be annoyed because I have lots of free time and Hapa Papa has no problem with me having weekly MNOs or going out for massages and pedicures and the like.
But those things always left me MORE stressed out because after doing these activities, I would come home to an even MESSIER house and even LESS time to do the things I needed to do.
Like seriously, when I see my entire house’s contents dumped onto the floor, the sink stacked with dishes, along with the normal REGULAR piles of shit all over my house, I go apoplectic. (And this is not to say that these are Hapa Papa’s fault. I just notice it more when I leave my house for a longer period of time and then return. Kinda like you don’t notice how your house smells until you leave for a few days.)
Anyhow, after years of debate with my therapist, we finally struck on something that has resonated with me. For me, self-care looks like adulting.
For me, self-care is removing the things that stress me out – and unfortunately, that requires me being a grown up and doing the grown up things that I should have been doing all along.
Now, this is not to deny that for many people, self-care is legitimately getting pampered, resting, or taking breaks from Facebook or the internet or whatever. That’s likely because these lovely people are actual productive members of society (unlike myself). And because they are actual productive members of society, they NEED these things because they adult all day and every day and what they need is a break.
Me, however. I have an easy life.
This is not to discount the real difficulties of being a parent of four small children (as well as homeschooling them) or invalidating my role as a mother. Those are absolutely true and real.
But in general, I have a very privileged life.
We are financially secure, financially stable, healthy, highly educated, and short of us being not-white (and me being a woman), we have no other areas in which we are oppressed or othered.
Again, this is not to deny that my difficulties and struggles are worthless or whatever. After all, this is still the life I have and my difficulties are still mine to deal with. I just acknowledge and understand that other people may see self-care differently.
So, now that I have improved at the low-hanging fruits of self-care (eg: getting enough sleep, eating regular meals, paying bills, etc.), it’s time to step it up a bit.
Not sure how yet since I am now realizing that self-care requires a lot of mindfulness, too.
Can I just insert how much I hate that stupid word? But it’s all true. My life would be markedly improved if I were only more mindful of my mental and physical state.
SO. Because I’m an extrovert and assume everyone wants to know the nitty gritty of my life and thoughts, NO MATTER HOW BANAL, I will now list a bunch of things that would be self-care for me. (I mean, I think it might help some of you to have real life examples of someone like you.)
1) Take care of my physical health by:
a) Going to sleep with the kids.
b) Taking vitamins/supplements.
c) Eating nutritious and healthy food.
2) Write consistently.
3) Pay bills/sort mail/daily adulting tasks.
4) WEEKLY PURGING.
5) Do at least 15 minutes daily on my PROJECT QUEUE (eg: sorting clothes, rearranging rooms, finish photobooks, etc.).
I’m sure there is more – but the more I add, the more stressed I become. I mean really, self-care is just taking care of the shit on my SUPER LONG To-Do List.
Gah. Is self-care supposed to stress me out? I think that means I’m doing it wrong.
So I am already doing most of this. I just want to add the purging and the project queuing. Sigh. I like how I have to give myself a pep talk before I have even started.
ADULTING IS HARD.
But I am really sick and tired of yelling at my kids and feeling like an abject failure every day. Who’s with me?