I was one messed up chick. Self-care? I thought that meant making sure I was showered, dressed, and maybe had some mascara on before I headed out to work. Eyeliner if I was feeling really good about the day. Long baths, pedicures, and massages…those were for “rich” people, not little ol’ me. Turns out, I was wrong. I found out I had a lot to learn about the importance of self-care.
I had been cheating myself out of some quality me time. And yes, baths, massages, pedicures, trips to the mall, or even a Himalayan salt cave are for the rich. Just not those rich in money. They were great for those rich in self-care and self-love.
Before recovery, I thought that any act of kindness towards myself was selfish. I felt that my time should’ve been spent with my kids and my partner, not getting my toes painted or the knots in my shoulders worked on. Besides, that stuff cost money and that money needed to be used on them. I wasn’t a millionaire.
The problem with my thinking was that I had no time to myself. I had no down time. I don’t think sitting in traffic counts as therapy, although as I grew in my recovery, I found that putting on some of my favorite rap and singing along without a care what other people thought about me is quite a stress reliever.
When all of my emotions came crashing down on me after months of trying to suppress them, I knew something had to give. Aside from counseling, writing, and eventually starting my twelve-step group, I learned the value of me time.
I already used the bathroom as a hiding spot to cry when a trigger hit, why not use it as a form of therapy too? Maybe that would help alleviate the triggers? I started taking warm baths a few times a week. I had my favorite songs, a book not related to sex addiction, and my affirmation cards nearby. I gave the kids and my hubby a heads up that I’d be unavailable for a while. I expected this big outrage to happen. Cue the dramatic music, “No, mother! You mustn’t leave us!” Nope. Never happened. They all survived. I did my best not to check the clock and in the beginning it was hard, but over time, I learned to relax and enjoy my Epsom salt bath.
I also discovered that not all nail salons are uber expensive. Especially if you only go every few months. Then, I found there are local beauty schools that offer their services at discounted rates so you can get your nails, hair, and even skin services done at a very reasonable price. So maybe it was time for me to take of me because what I had been doing – absolutely nothing (unless being hypervigilant and trying to control Devin counted…um no) – wasn’t working so great for me.
I started adding more things to the mix: trips to the beach, walks around the neighborhood, yoga (ugh, I need to get back to that!), riding my bike, dancing, praying, meditating, even a night away from the family, just to name a few.
I went from being afraid to be selfish to knowing that it wasn’t selfish, it was self-care. That’s a big difference. If I was going to heal from the relational trauma the disclosure caused, I needed to put myself on my priority list or those around me would suffer, including me. As I took care of me, I found I was able to focus more easily on recovery work, and guess what? The triggers eased up until they finally left for good.
Self-care is something I still do today, almost seven years after my first disclosure. If I could go back and tell myself a few things, not that I’d listen, but if could, I’d say, “Surround yourself with healthy people ie: S-Anon and Candeo, treat Devin with love, respect and compassion, educate yourself about the addiction but don’t be his accountability partner/counselor or try to control him, and most of all: Treat yo’ self
I still love this episode as much as I did when I wrote about it here! What do you do to treat yourself?