I have been told I write a lot about relationships and death. Guilty as charged. I do often write about family dynamics, love relationships, and the relationships we have with our children. It’s not an intentional thing, more often than not I’m just doing a mind dump. Put your seatbelt on and stay on the train, because here comes another one.
This morning, on the treadmill at the gym at 5am, I was thinking about the notion of “self care” and “self love” that I see so much of in daily news feeds and social media. I sometimes cringe when I see it, not because I don’t think it’s important, but because it seems like some people have gotten obsessed with it. I have never once referred to myself as a “goddess”, let alone on a regular and daily basis. But I do know of someone who refers to herself this way every day, as well as the people in her tribe (for lack of a better word). My social circle has admittedly grown smaller over the years, by choice, but I would not refer to my girlfriends as goddesses. The women (and men!) that I call friends are intelligent, witty, insightful, creative, talented, and kind people. We are attracted to each other for one or more of those reasons. I am grateful to have them in my life.
Sometimes we need more sleep. Or more exercise. Or more yoga. Or better nutrition. Or as a dear friend of mine might say, just a damn bubble bath in peace and quiet! These things are all true. Another friend of mine says I don’t always understand; that I have a lot of “energy”. Some days I feel so tapped it’s hard for me to wrap my head around that, but perhaps it’s true. I know she is telling me from a place of love, and she is likely to give the goddesses of the world that need a nap more of a break than I ever will.
But when is it too much? When do you need to get real with your goddess self, get your butt out of bed, and address whatever is going on that requires so much self love? Do you need a doctor? A therapist? A c-pap machine? The last one might seem like my sarcastic humor, but let me explain. I recently went to lunch with an old friend, the one I’ve known longer than anyone (and she still puts up with me) and I was enlightened. With a host of mystery physical problems (that perhaps weren’t really a mystery at all, just none of my business), her husband asked her to have a sleep study. He had started wearing a c-pap and it changed his life. She took his advice, because let’s face it the hope is that if you are married that person is your best friend and your “person”. Turns out she needed one too. A different variety than her hubby’s, but nonetheless it happened. And guess what? She said her life and body improved exponentially. Another friend of mine told me she “wanted her body back”. Again, a host of mystery physical ailments. Some identifiable, others not so much. A trip to a chiropractor and some scheduled physical therapy to address some old, neglected issues and she is well on her way to the self care she really needs. The difference between these two friends and the self-proclaimed goddess is that they are WARRIORS. They are dealing with chronic pain that a cup of tea and a soak in the hot tub will not cure. Sure, those things are nice bandaids, but anything worth having is going to require WORK. Stay on the train.
I’ve said it before, a hundred times, and I’ll say it again. ANYTHING WORTH HAVING REQUIRES WORK. Some things may come more easily to some than to others. Some people blow through college and become rock stars in society. It took me decades. A ton of blood, sweat, and tears but I did it. Through hard work. Some people lose weight and stay in shape by following simple guidelines, calories in and out and a bit of movement. For me, the struggle is real every day! I go to the gym under the cloak of darkness when there is maybe five other people in there. I work my tail off. I try to eat clean but falter occasionally (I blame you, nachos). I have cut out soda, fast food, cigarettes, and most things bad for me many, many years ago and still I struggle. But I stay on the train and keep going. I know that progress is slow, that it is a marathon not a sprint, but I’m always genuinely surprised when someone makes a positive comment about my weight. It’s such a micro event, this weight loss, that it sometimes doesn’t feel like it’s happening. But then I try on last years’ summer clothes or take a look at my passport photo and realize progress is progress. Even slow progress.
I know that self love and care is important, but getting up off your butt and making the effort is too. I’m no doctor, psychologist, or trained professional. But I do know that calling yourself a goddess doesn’t make you one, and that drinking tea and taking bubble baths isn’t going to cure chronic pain. Like any good relationship, it requires a ton of really hard work. Maybe the need is to get real with yourself, and the relationship you have with yourself. You can keep telling yourself lies till you believe them, or you can take action in a way to improve it. Don’t think that doctor is helping you? There’s a million of them out there, go find another! Can’t work around those gym hours? They are a dime a dozen. Go find one that does. Can’t afford a gym? Go walk around the block, the only requirement is YOU.
I guess I’ve finally reached an age where I think if something isn’t serving you well, you need to be honest with yourself about what you want and need. I’m not just talking about pain, illness, and weight either. If a relationship is unhealthy, get out of it. Yes, you can walk away from toxic family. Yes, you can leave that abusive partner. Yes, you will live to tell the tale. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Find a partner who gets you, who understands you, who is your biggest cheerleader. They’re probably not in your back yard and it will require work to go and find them. You might need to look in another city, state, or country. But I do believe there is someone out there for everyone. Like your health and friendships, you might have to do a bit of leg work.
Going to the gym at 5am is not pretty. Sweating your fanny off is not pretty. It’s hard work. But it’s part of the self care I do for myself. I don’t really want to live to be 100, but I do want to live as trouble free physically as I can, particularly as I get older. It’s never too late to take care of yourself. Take that bubble bath, soak in the hot tub, enjoy that cup of tea or whatever it is that makes you feel pampered and spoiled. But get up and get moving.
Life is way too short for anything less. I’ll rest when I’m dead. Or on vacation.
In the meantime, stay well my friends.