self care.

I am having to learn how to be a person all over again.

Or maybe I’ve never really known how to be a healthy adult. Either way, normal and simple things like showering and cleaning a house, having any kind of normalcy and routine (like when do I wash my face? when do I go to bed? when and what do I eat?), finding out what I like and taking time to myself…all these things feel brand new.

The other day I wearily climbed the stairs after Matthew and the kids sat down to dinner. I needed to shower. It had been five days. In college I happily skipped showers, but my lack of showering as a mother (and therefore an adult) has been different. I don’t know how to fit it into my week. I don’t know how much I want to shower. I only do when it simply can’t be ignored any longer, and I react. As I climbed, I thought about the looming task of putting the kids to bed, and felt like I weighed a million pounds. I saw the years and years full of bedtimes left to go before my kids grow up, and felt like lying down and not ever getting up. But I could shower, first. I knew, somewhere deep down, that I would feel better afterward.

And I did. I literally felt like a different person.

I used to scoff at the idea of self-care making any difference. Little things can’t really help that much! They don’t for me, anyway. When I showered that night, though, I realized that I can’t actually say that, because I’ve never really made a practice of taking care of myself. And the simple act of standing in hot water, washing my face and hair, scrubbing my body, reminded me that I have a body. That caring for myself doesn’t make me a weak person, it actually helps me to be a person.

My entire adult life has been comprised of days, weeks and years in which I do nothing but react. I get up when the kids wake me. I make us all breakfast with whatever we have, washing dishes that I need to put the food in. I leave the house when I am scheduled to. I turn on the tv because I can’t handle the noise or the need, I snuggle with the desperately clingy child to try to stave off a meltdown, I shop for food because we’re out of everything, I wash my face when it feels disgusting, I go to bed when I feel sickeningly tired, I spend time alone once I have actually fallen apart and Matthew takes the kids to his parents. None of this happens in the moment because I have chosen it.

I am now thinking of small ways to be proactive, instead of reactive. They will not be easy for me, but they will be simple things, like choosing when I will wake up, when I will wash my face, when I will go grocery shopping, when it is time for me to be alone.

They will remind me of what I need, and in that way, they will remind me that I am a person.

Day…?

After a particularly rough several days, I just realized I completely forgot about my writing every day in October challenge.

That’s ok.

I’m also thinking about how, even though this election is super intense, in the face of immediate personal sorrow or hardship it can seem trite.

Elections and presidents will come and go, and humanity will still and always face its particular mix of hardship and struggle, triumph and transcendence.

I think that is both encouraging and sad. But I mostly think it’s important: so that we don’t let ourselves get so caught up in heady rhetoric that we forget about the deeply hurting people all around us.

We belong to each other.