I have diabetes. I first “acquired” it through three bouts of gestational diabetes. After the birth of my first daughter, I was borderline Type II, but I didn’t really take that great care of myself, for a myriad of reasons. So, when I became pregnant with my son, I pretty much had it again as soon as I found out I was expecting. Next thing I knew, I was on insulin and weighing food and being terrified about my son’s health before he was born (he’s fine, 6’5″ and 210 pounds, so he’ll be okay, LOL). During my third and last pregnancy, I ate better, walked a lot and tried to take better care of myself, despite my being overweight and generally not doing that well. My daughter was born healthy, but I was a complete mess physically after she was born.
Due to the reasons in my life, such as little emotional support, the physical and verbal abuse inflicted on me by my late husband and the overwhelming job of motherhood under those conditions, my health suffered greatly. After the death of my husband, I remember going to a sporting goods store and purchasing a treadmill. While I did walk outside, I bought this for ME. It was something all mine, something to start “self-care” for myself. I began using it regularly (starting out at about 10 minutes at first!) and through that and a paid, by mail diet program, I proceeded to lose 110 pounds. I felt like a goddess. I had energy, I felt desirable and pretty and my mood was much improved. Naturally, I began to self-sabotage myself immediately.
The definition above is pretty indicative of self-sabotage. I looked great, felt wonderful and was starting to feel happy, so I began the process of destroying everything I had worked so hard for. I was dating at the time and even got engaged in a disastrous series of poor decisions which I came to my senses about and said au revoir just in time before I ruined my life in another way. Finally single and experiencing relief, I of course immediately immersed myself in a horrifyingly bad relationship with someone twenty years my junior and wound up wasting more years of my life intertwined with that lunacy. Thankfully, I came to my senses once again…at least for a while. Oy vey, the terrible decisions I’ve made. However, I have come to accept the fact that I made them. One important step I believe in becoming aware at least of the difference between self-care and self-sabotage is acceptance of the mistakes one has made.
In my psychology courses, I learned a great deal about the above graphic pertaining to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If you read the graphic from the bottom upwards, you’ll see the common sense layout of Maslow’s guiding principles towards self-actualization. If Maslow isn’t your thing, of course, feel free to move on or apply your own thoughts to attaining quality self-care, but this always spoke to me. I’m still grabbing on to the line above the word social, dangling by the arms, and trying to build self-respect, self-esteem, employ a working strength that I can draw from and I’ve achieved a good bit of freedom I think.
However, that whole “desire to become the most one can be”, well, I think that’s where the self-sabotage comes in. Several times I’ve lost weight, felt great, looked great, enjoyed health improvements, only to plummet backwards into poor eating and exercise habits and find myself in a personal slump again. I enjoy feeling good and being at a healthy weight, so why do I revert back to old habits? One can’t just blame it on the mere existence of the concept of a habit. There must be an internal process that takes one backwards.
If I give myself permission to take some time for myself, why must I turn it into a day of not getting anything accomplished? Why don’t I learn self-care that not only brings me pleasure, but also incorporates a striving towards positive and lasting self-care? I’m sure if I headed over to the nearest bookstore, I would find a hundred books on just how to achieve just that. I don’t believe that a book is going to give one the answers needed to do what needs to be done.
Perhaps it harkens back to the cruise I took alone. Maybe that was self-actualization at work and I didn’t recognize it at the time. Maybe it was deciding to start this blog and connect with others who are like-minded and understand my inner conflicts and such. Maybe it’s finally settling down and getting married again, foregoing the horrifying trepidation I experienced for years, worried I would get “stuck” in a bad relationship if I opened myself up to love again. Perhaps I will never know?
I suppose there will always be a part of me striving to do better or at least thinking about it. I stare at my unwritten novel…gaze at my craft table and wonder why I don’t get out there. My empty easel sits there inviting me to paint. Maybe taking an hour/day/week to chill out and sit back isn’t the answer. Maybe self-care lies in pushing oneself to do better and be a better person just for myself and no one else, despite those I love and my desire to spend time with them and enjoy life with them?
Much to think about here I think…