Sunday, July 6, 2014

Loving Myself Enough to Listen

The chalky feel of Tums coated my molars as I crunched them quickly, and chased them with a glass of water. It was still early evening, but I felt queasy and exhausted. After brushing my teeth, I crawled into bed before dusk turned to dark, listening to the booms and pops of the fireworks in the neighborhood. I tossed and turned for hours, it seemed. What was wrong? My body was treating me like an enemy. Finally, sleep overtook me.

While writing the next morning, my stomach gurgled and churned. Afraid I would feel even worse later, I decided to head out for my morning walk, before the day turned hotter, and I felt any worse. Feeling sick is so foreign to me, I felt slightly offended that my body was letting me down like this. Where was my energy? Where was my enthusiasm? What was happening to me?

The concept of "extreme self-care" came to mind as I walked along the trail, and I realized that a little exercise is good, but when I am feeling like crap, it's probably okay to take it easy and only go a couple of miles. I slowed down enough to enjoy some of the flowers in a neighbor's yard, and then I went back home to rest.

What would good self-care look like? How could I make the most of this time? What if I took care of myself the way a mother would nurture a child, or the way a friend would take care of another? 

I decided that since I wasn't at death's door, maybe I should sauté all of the veggies I'd bought for the weekend, so they wouldn't go to waste. My kitchen smelled like somebody loves me. Somebody does. I am learning to love myself, and to see it is not a selfish thing to take care of myself. This weekend, I would nourish myself with healthy choices, and allow for an indulgence or two, if that's what I needed.

Not feeling much better, I decided to lie down. A friend, aware of my blah day, sent cheery texts. Another offered to chat. I could handle that kind of interaction. After awhile she had me laughing, but my stomach still hurt. After we talked, I went in search of food. Maybe I was just hungry.
Very ripe mangoes were waiting in the fridge to be eaten. I peeled one, and bit into its sweet, tender flesh. It had been years since I'd had a good mango, and I savored every bite. 

My tummy began to settle down, and as it did, I was hopeful hunger was all I was battling. I had a late breakfast, and then later, snacked on a handful of Junior Mints and some Tootsie Rolls and Frooties. That may have been inadvisable. My stomach began to complain again.
My friend had suggested I try reading something FICTIONAL, since I'd been plowing through Brené Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection. I grabbed a small stack of humorous lit, and crawled back into bed. My mind struggled to concentrate on the words. My eyelids kept drooping.

The rumbling of my stomach coincided with the thunder rolling across the sky. The neighbor's dog seemed to be protesting the incoming summer storm with his incessant barking. This was the cacophony to which I finally succumbed to sleep. A couple of hours later, I awoke to a semi-darkened room. The rain still hadn't arrived, but the skies were growing in intensity. 

What if my body weren't letting me down? What if my body were making me slow down, to allow time for reflection and learning to take place? What if I were being forced to dwell in the moment more fully? 

Not having the strength to run at full tilt, and having to stay home from planned activities gave me the time and space to consider that there was internal conflict taking place within me. I could keep ignoring the troubling thoughts, and feel miserable, or I could confront them, with care and concern, and continue to learn lessons the old Denise would have avoided. 

As my tangled thoughts unraveled, and I was able to make sense of my confusion and internal conflict, I found my body returning to a more relaxed state. Anxiety lifted, and simple answers replaced complicated problems. I was getting to know myself instead of denying who I am. 

Yesterday was hard. And uncomfortable. And quite painful. Was my body letting me down? No, it never will. I am finally recognizing the signs of conflict between what I feel, what I know, and what I do. I am learning some things about myself that I am still mulling over in my mind. 

As I went through the day, I treated myself as a friend would, giving myself permission to stay home, and do things for myself that would feel comforting, as I struggled to make meaning of my thoughts. Eating good food, laughing with a friend, reading, and resting, gave me some time to see that my mind/body/spirt were out of alignment. 

"Leaning into the discomfort" is such a counterintuitive thing for me, and yet I am learning if I am willing to face it, and endure it, there is greater understanding, and comfort waiting on the other side of my fears. My body didn't let me down; it was reminding me to listen to my spirit, my thoughts, and my heart. I am finally learning to listen, and to love myself in the process. 


  1. Excellent post. Self-care is something I have been learning as well. I thought it was selfish for the longest time. But my model didn't take care of herself. She died at 44. And honestly I don't remember her ever just sitting and relaxing. One New Years Eve she sat and played a game with us. That is the only time I remember that. I have vowed to break that chain and it's one of the hardest ones for me. I want to let myself enjoy things more. To celebrate. Loved your post.

    1. Thank you, Anne. We can find something to celebrate every day, if we look hard enough. So glad you're having an extended celebration of darling Olivia's life. She's beating those odds!


Thank you so much for stopping by Randomocity. Like most writers, I enjoy interacting with the wonderful people who read what I have to say, so please, if you would like to leave a "blogment," I would love to hear from you!