One of my recent Facebook posts reads: I've lived in my new house for 2 weeks and still have not turned the stove on, have not cooked anything but Hot Pockets. But, I've blasted through like 30 episode of Grey's. I'm not exaggerating at all; I've literally eaten Hot Pockets daily for two weeks. Self-care isn't really at the top of my priority list, but at least I'm eating…
Rewind a year. I was eating organic, vegan food. Juicing. Giving a shit. My wife and I just got back from Hawaii. My biggest complaint was traffic on the way to the gym, or maybe the ice maker not spitting ice out fast enough from my $2,000 refrigerator. Of course there was more to life and lots of stuff “wrong” because, well, it's life… but things seemed pretty great.
Then, in November, everything changed. Everything. My wife and I got a divorce after being married for only a few months; my whole world flipped upside down because now I was having to handle everything. The house, the kids, life. It was an adjustment for sure, but I was taking life by the balls. I had this shit. About that same time, my neighbor started being crazy. Well, crazier than usual… he was always a little weird and creepy but he took it to a new level. In March, I had to get a restraining order. I wrote more about it in this post (warning: graphic). Everything went to shit and I haven't come up for breath yet.
I'm not here to whine about the shit that's been thrown my way, I just want you guys to understand where I'm coming from when I say how important it is to take care of yourself, even when you're barely hanging on. I can't be the only one feeling this way. When you wake up but didn't want to, when you don't know why you're living, maybe when you don't even want to live. But you have kids. Or dogs. Or someone that loves you. Dying isn't a choice here, so we might as well take care of ourselves as best we can while we're alive, yeah?
“That sounds great, Sadie, but how do I actually do it?”
So glad you asked. I'm going to tell you what I'm working on right now and hopefully it will help you come up with your own self-care plan.
Self-Care When You're Barely Hanging On…
1. Fake it til ya make it. I'm not one to say you should bury your feelings and ignore them, but sometimes we've gotta fake it til we make it. I used to think putting a smile on would help, but I don't even have the energy to smile right now… so I go through the motions. I wake up and feed the dogs, deal with the kids, text my friends, write some Facebook posts, check some emails, go shopping. By mid-day, I'm exhausted, but I accomplished a few things so I don't feel bad for taking a nap. When I wake up, I'm back at it. Going through the motions until they become second nature again, until I feel normal again. It's helped a little more each day.
When you get the hang of it, start fixing your hair, painting your nails… little things that will truly make you feel your spirits lift, even just a little bit.
2. Cry a little. Or a lot. Crying isn't something I really do, so I wouldn't usually think of crying as self-care. Lately, though, it seems that crying gives me a release that nothing else can. Just screaming into the pillow, crying until I can't breathe… it's the one time I can let go and not worry about anything else. Give yourself a good cry, then move on. Don't let crying be an every hour of every day thing.
3. Redefine your day to day. Your “to do” list isn't going to look the same for a long, long time… and that's okay. When you're used to living your life with goals at level 100, it's tough to set goals at level 1 or even 10. It's just temporary, though, and it'll get the ball rolling so you can (eventually) get back up to your level 100 if that's what you want. My “hustle” used to be setting goals of making $500 or more in a day. Now, my hustle is to put a bra on and leave the house looking not so homeless. Whatever works. It's an accomplishment.
4. Redefine your life. For years, I've known that I wanted to work at a funeral home. I wanted to embalm bodies, be there for the families, the whole 9 yards. Now, I'm not so sure that I want to work at a funeral home knowing I'd have to take care of horrible, horrible people like my neighbor. Same with being a nurse. You can't judge people, you have to help them all. I don't think I'm THAT person anymore. I've changed, and maybe it's just temporary but the dream I've had for so long doesn't seem like such a great dream anymore. More like a nightmare. I got rid of all of my embalming and funeral books and called it a day. I don't know what the future holds for me but I do know that redefining my life can only make me stronger, and my life better.
Take control of things that were taken from you before. When I left my last relationship, the first thing I did was get tattoos. Why? Besides tattoos totally being therapy for me, my ex always talked shit about everyone's tattoos. So no matter what tattoos I would've gotten, she wouldn't have been happy with them. She would've criticized them to the point of me not liking them anymore. So when we split, I was able to not only redefine my life but redefine what I wanted my body to look like.
5. Avoid self-harm and be honest with yourself. This is a serious one for me. I used to self-harm, and it's a daily struggle to avoid going back to it. Being honest with myself means noticing signs of self-destructive behavior (like shopping too much, hooking up with people I normally wouldn't, even driving too fast) and trying to prevent them. It's easier when you hit the problems head on because when you avoid them, they just keep bubbling up and eventually you can't reel them back in. Write it out if you have to – in a journal, on your blog. You don't have to share it with the world like I do, but you can! It may help others in similar situations. Avoid any type of self-destructive behavior that could lead to addiction (pills, drinking, etc) because “one time” can turn into “I need rehab” really fucking fast.
6. Lean on friends. I don't think anything is more difficult for me, than depending on another human being. Almost every person I've depended on, and loved, has let me down in one way or another. I have a friend who has been helping me through this trauma, and as amazing as he is, I keep picturing myself messing up our relationship just because I feel like it's inevitable. Why not just rip the band-aid off? Why wait for him to break my heart when I can just break my own heart and move on? If you're like I am, it's going to take a LOT, but you can let those walls fall down a bit and trust your friend(s) during this time. Tell them what you feel comfortable telling them, and let them support you. If they insist on taking care of you, let them. You won't regret it.