Taking care of #1, part 2: lessons learned
Remember my post with a list of little things you can do to take care of yourself, even when you have zero minutes and maybe next to no help? Here it is: https://www.badmomscanada.com/single-post/2017/04/19/Taking-Care-of-1
Well, over the last year I decided to take that a step further – but it didn’t happen until I hit what I like to call, mama rock-bottom. I won’t go too much into detail about that rock bottom, but I will in another post, another time.
The Bad Moms blog started 8 months into parenting my second kid, when my life was in overdrive with all the things that life brings: two kids under 3, going back to work immediately (like, sending work emails at the hospital), dealing with a traumatic birth experience, juggling breastfeeding/pumping while at the office, taking care of my family, trying to keep my marriage on track, dealing with normal family drama…health issues, anxiety, the list goes on. Self-care had gone out the window by that point and waved to me on the way out, and then some even harder stuff happened (circa fall 2016).
The picture I presented to others? I had it all together.The real story? Well….
After lots and lots of stress and life events kind of just crashing into eachother I kind of just, lost myself. Lost my way and lost touch of how to be happy. I lost who Sara was and in that process also lost what I meant to other people, including my kids and husband. I basically, got really really lost. So there I was in the summer of 2017, at the end of my rope. Many days, it was torture getting out of bed. It took everything I had to continue to smile. It took everything I had, every remaining fiber of myself, to get my kids fed and dressed, let alone be what I thought was a good mom. One of the most telling thoughts I had was when I thought to myself "what use am I really, to anyone?" I have so many regrets from that time period. But the number one? Not taking care of me, so I could take care of them. I was in such a fog that I didn't realize that I had the power to come back to myself.
There was no “aha” moment or big realization, I just knew I had two little people I loved very much who I wanted to have more energy and “life” for. So I let a friend talk me into going to the gym with her. I went once, talked myself out of going again. Then talked myself into going again. I started thinking about my meals, what I was putting into my body, and starting making notes of how I could improve how I eat and what I eat. I started actually THINKING about how much alcohol I was drinking, just so I could be aware of how dependent I was on it to “get through” the evenings until I could go to bed. I know right? Sounds sad and pathetic, but, c’est la vie. I took a little time off during the dark days of winter, and went away with a friend. It wasn’t easy, and I know this is an impossibility for many people with crazier lives than I have, but it was worth it. I didn’t make an overall “health” goal, knowing that that internal pressure might set me off course. My goal: to overall feel happier. If that was even possible (I wasn’t sure it was).
And over the course of the past year something crazy happened. With a journey that started with just a bit of awareness: what I was eating, drinking, how I was treating my body in general, how much sleep I was losing (I’m still a terrible sleeper)…I started making a shift into action and change, and I started feeling a little better.
Bit by bit, I started to mentally feel better because of the physical changes I was making.
Fast forward to now, and here I am at 36.5 and I still have all the challenges I had two years ago. But now taking care of MYSELF comes close to the top of my list of priorities. I go to the gym 3-4 times a week, and I try to not eat crap all the time (but I don’t preach anything – I love pasta and wine and I won’t stop). I still drink probably too much, but I’m aware of what I’m consuming. I still have a long, long way to go to what I consider great mental health.
But more importantly, right now I FEEL good and functional, and closer to who I think Sara really is. If there are nights that sleep eludes me (and these are many), my better healthier lifestyle helps me the next day. I’m not a fiend about these things, and I’ll never be preachy about the exercising or about healthy eating or anything. Because this is MY journey and what I need to do. Maybe those things aren’t for you.
But I guess I’m trying to tell you to try it: drink the koolaid, realize that you have the power to make small changes that can lead to big change. It doesn’t happen overnight and no-one can be everything all the time.
But you have to start somewhere, right? And why not try to take care of yourself…now?