Women (in this case, but I realize this applies to others!) are constantly bombarded with hypocritical messages. “Lose 30 pounds by summer!”, a magazine headline blares as you are waiting in line at the store. Underneath though, you see another, smaller headline that says, “Ten cakes to make his mouth water!” Ok LOL. First of all, this is the 21st century and while most couples are cooking together, if you need to bake a cake to get his attention, we need to have a chat. I haven’t bought or read a magazine in years, but I do remember all of this. Maybe that’s why I don’t buy them anymore?
Now before you roll your eyes and think that this is a post about feminism or asserting your female dominance, don’t worry; it’s not. I used to get into all the quizzes in the magazines, “how hot does he think you are?” and other things to either make me feel terrible about myself or believe I could take on the world. Somewhere, there is a group of people, sitting around a table and trying to figure out how to capture our attention for the next issue. This is somehow being replaced with a more whimsical approach online, like the quizzes we now see on our phones and shared by friends. “What kind of wine are you?” creates a more subtle way of making you feel good about yourself, by telling you that you’re a “warm red, capable of relaxing the most anxious partner“. The methods change, but the message is the same: You’re not enough; keep trying.
If you type “you are enough” into your search engine, you will see about ten million memes come up in the image tab. It’s a message people have been trying to convey for time immemorial. For women everywhere, it’s always been a struggle to do all that we do and still have time for others and the desperate need for time to ourselves. Everywhere you look, there are apps to meditate, sip and paint nights to sign up for with your friends and “girl getaways” to book. I think back to my own sabbatical three years ago, when I traipsed all over the Caribbean alone, basking in the amazing concept of doing something just for me.
You see, for twenty years, yes TWENTY, I went nowhere. I never had so much as a day trip. My late husband was, as you know if you’ve read some of my other musings, selfish and cruel. My ‘job’ was at home, doing what I was supposed to do. His job was to do whatever he damn well pleased. Those days are long gone and a decade behind me now. I no longer think that I “can’t” do something or “won’t” be able to. As do many, my constraints reside solely within the confines of affordability, family and other obligations. I have a home, a husband, children and my own life to live. They are all intertwined and mutually important, but I now have the power of choice, the ability to think for myself. While I discuss things to do and mull over plans, I don’t have to worry that I won’t be “able to” because someone doesn’t approve. It is a difficult mindset to escape, but escape I did.
Some things that I do for myself that allow me to rise above all these conflicting and contradictory things around me include a lot of forced perspective. Although I sometimes don’t feel like it (lol), I get on my treadmill and go for a walk. I feel better afterwards and it’s good for me. I write, because it makes me feel better and connects me to the world in a cathartic way. I rest, less often than I should, but more than I used to.
Lately, I have been going out of my way to delete a lot of negativity that I deal with online. I talk about this in my previous posts about negativity and purging. I’m sure if you look back far enough, you’ll find more. It’s a topic that grows with me personally and morphs from time to time. I’m trying to delete groups and people who are negative and add in fun groups that make me laugh. For you, it might be something completely different. Spending time at the library, meeting a friend for coffee or getting one out by yourself could be your form of self-care. Whatever it is that you do, or even if doing nothing is your self-care, it is ENOUGH.
If you have no idea who Erma Bombeck is, then you are most certainly younger than I, or, you just don’t know who she is lol. For me, she was a huge part of my reading library as a child. She introduced me to humor and clean humor. She taught me that you don’t have to use the F word to get your point across and you could be subtle about many topics and still be hilarious. Her writing of “If I had my life to live over” has always guided and driven me. If you have the time, I HIGHLY suggest you read it. You can find it here.
In the end, the message can be simple if you let it. Trying to make something happen because you want it to or trying to force something is, for the most part, not going to work. Letting things happen the way they should, and realizing that something not going your way is not a failure, but a message we should listen to is a task I strive for all the time. Holding on to the past is heavy, talking about it and trying to heal is healthy for many. Allow the new in and keep letting the past fall away. It may take a long time and some things may never drop out of existence, but try as hard as you can not to let it rule you; because it will if you let it.
I’d love to hear your ideas of self-care and how you fight the contradictions all around you…