This past week was tougher than the others.
With the snow storm, being exhausted from work (so much exciting stuff going on!) and at my wits end with the stress in my extended family, I just wanted to hunker down on the couch with Joe, glass of red in hand with a glass of red, and relax. Was that too much to ask for? Was what I wanted really oh so bad? Did I not deserve it? Deserves got nothin’ to do with it, mister. (a la Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry).
Sure I deserved to relax – and one could argue I deserved a nice glass of wine.
But what I deserve more than that is to be good to and feel good about myself.
I knew I would enjoy the heck out of that glass of wine – but I also knew I would feel badly if I broke my word to myself. And I don’t deserve to feel badly .So I spent literally HOURS Friday night wrestling myself in my mind. Back and forth. A tug of war between my two desires: indulgence or sticking to my guns. I told myself, “No one would know.” Or, “ I could just not blog about that part.”
I even tried the justification of doing it and using it as an opportunity to write a “how to forgive yourself” blog. I mean you’d all love that right? I could cut my little project short, would any of you really notice? I could honestly say that I am very proud of how great I’ve done these past 3 weeks. And sure 4 would’ve been better, but 3 was great.
This is all true – but it’s not what I said I would do.
So how good could I really feel from it? I didn’t crack open a bottle of wine and I didn’t indulge in any Valentine’s Day chocolate. Did I feel deprived? Yes I did, but just for a little bit.
When I put that on par with how great I feel overall by keeping my word to myself and having renewed my self-confidence, that feeling vanished about as fast as it arrived.
Turns out I have more stamina to feel good than to feel bad. Sweet. This past week really illustrated exactly what my coping skills are: working out (a good one, but wasn’t able to utilize this much with my injuries lately), wine and chocolate. Luckily for me they are pretty much in that order – however, I realized how many times I wanted to escape anxiety or stress and just comfort myself.
This isn’t earth shattering news, we all do this. But this project is about learning, so what did I learn? I was honestly a little shocked that nearly every day I have the thought, “This has been such a tough, long day I would really love a glass of wine”. And it wasn’t even always to feel better, sometimes I wanted to celebrate. Several times this past week I thought, “This is so freaking awesome, let’s celebrate with a glass of wine!” By now, I’m sure you’re all thinking I have a drinking problem….
I also realized that my first year as a mom was one of the most stressful and emotionally challenging of my life.
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The lack of sleep, extreme pressure I put on myself to do everything – and do it perfectly, and the constantly finding out I did not have it figured out were much harder than I let on. As I missed night after night of sleep, I had a hard time working out consistently. Between that and breastfeeding, my diet was less than ideal for me. Not horrible, but amazing how a few bad habits cost me a lot of progress.
These bad habits arose because they felt like little rewards for working so hard and feeling so worn out. It’s easy to see how it happened, but it took a month of good clean livin’ to get my mind right again.
It could’ve been any stressful event or circumstance that throws us off. For me it was being Dr Mommy. As my inbox piled up with emails I couldn’t seem to get to and baby, in the way that they do, needed me 24 hours a day, I cut myself a lot of slack with my diet. The upside was that I wasn’t freaking out about hating my body as I’d done in the past – not sure if it was the hormones of breastfeeding or the desire not to pass on my neurosis to Lola that helped me nip this, but this part has been better.
The downside was that I got into several bad habits. My diet was always full of more veggies than most, I stayed gluten free, etc. but I had let myself slip down the slope of too many chai teas with honey at my favorite coffee shop, sharing a gluten free cookie with Joe all too often and far too many days ending with “I deserve a glass of wine”. My life felt so challenging that it was all I could do to not reward myself.
You other moms – or just busy women in general – know what I’m talking about.
We push and push ourselves at work, at home, at the gym and much of it is done out of some fear of not being perfect…and let’s just say it, of failing. We have all our plates spinning in the air and rarely do we think, “I’m friggin’ awesome for even getting half of this stuff done!” We spend a lot of time thinking we should be doing it better.
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We stress that we aren’t perfectly cool, calm and collected all the time. That we haven’t yet gotten into perfect shape, or if we have, we’re terrified of losing it. We feel anxious and teetering on the edge of the house of cards falling down. Time we give ourselves a little credit – and a little self-love as a reward (I know it’s not chocolate, but it’s pretty tasty.)
I’m working my way through Gabrielle Bernstein’s May Cause Miracles and there is an entire week of exercises devoted to self-love.
One exercise is particularly unnerving: saying I love you to yourself in the mirror. Try it. Harder than it sounds for many of us.
I spoke with a patient of mine working through the book too and she said she physically couldn’t utter the words. That makes me so sad….and I totally get it. We seem to have our stuff all backwards. We think, I’ll be more lovable when I’m perfect – when I’m getting it all right.
What we really need is all that self-love WHILE we’re trying so damn hard to do it all. (and guess what? We’ll never be perfect so if we’re waiting for that we’ll miss out on the love anyway! So knock it off. Yes Brooke, I’m talking to you.) So find at least 5 ways to love yourself that actually feel as good as a cocktail. If taking a bubble bath is boring to you, don’t do that! Find some stuff that actually gets you all warm and fuzzy feeling.
I love buying little things for our apartment: a fun new plate, a cute magnet, a delicious smelling candle. I am really affected by my “space” so I like to nurture it. I journal – a lot. I listen to music that makes me happy (music changes my mood in an instant). And I’m learning to say I love you in the mirror.
If all this feels a little hokey – get over to it. It’s worth it. It works. It is better than indulging every craving when what we really want is go feel better. Yes sometimes we want the chocolate or wine because it’s delicious, but we all know that’s not the only reason we reach for it. It’s often to stop feeling what we’re feeling.
If you didn’t catch my post on the RAIN method, check that out. So what I learned this week is that it was amazing how a big hug for yourself can settle anxiety….perhaps even more than wine. Who loves ya baby? YOU! Or at least you better start 🙂
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