Hi friends, welcome to steamy July! I am about a month away from having Baby Vennie #2 and as you can probably imagine, feeling a little overwhelmed. About two weeks ago, I was chatting with my good friend Leanne (who happens to be a therapist) and I told her I was feeling really tired lately – not just because of the heat and belly but because Lucas was still not sleeping through the night. Then I added that I was feeling scared about the upcoming delivery because my last experience wasn’t necessarily one I remember fondly, and that I was struggling with the laundry piling up and little man’s toys always scattered around the house no matter how many times I picked them up…and so on and so forth. Before I could reign it in, it turned into a full on pity party, and the more I complained, the angrier I got at my situation.
Why was I pregnant in the summer…in Houston? Why did my family live so far away? Why hadn’t we sleep-trained Lucas earlier?
If you’re married or in a long-term relationship, it shouldn’t surprise you that I finally concluded it was actually all Dave’s fault… I mean, it was his job to take care of me, right?
According to Leanne: wrong. In the nicest way possible, she clarified that the only person truly responsible for taking care of me, is me.
Self-care, it turns out, takes a lot more effort and energy than just going on spa dates. It means truly accepting accountability for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and making decisions that support it. Self-care asks us to establish boundaries and practice (at least some) discipline so that we give ourselves the best chance at happiness. It requires us to tune in and get to know our thought patterns, desires, triggers, and fundamental needs so that we can properly anticipate and manage them. Self-care is the very definition of adulting. It puts the ball in our court and empowers us to go get what we need to feel whole instead of expecting anyone else to guess what it is and magically deliver it on a silver platter.
This certainly does not mean we can’t ask for help or that we shouldn’t look for support from people in our lives. It’s only a problem if/when we start believing our own sense of worth, fulfillment, and happiness rests solely on their shoulders. When we expect others to take care of our core needs, we become the victims who need to be rescued and set our relationships up for failure. Solid, healthy, mutually beneficial friendships and marriages are formed when two whole people choose to be together to support and elevate one another… not fix or “complete” each other. I’m not sure if I’ve shared this with you before, but Will Smith does a great job talking about this in this brief Facebook video – check it out!
Do you know what I did after I left Leanne’s office that day? I scheduled an appointment with a toddler sleep consultant, arranged to meet with a doula (whom I ended up hiring), asked our nanny to come an hour earlier than usual to help me with housework, and set an appointment with my (actual) therapist to help with my anxiety. I understand that paying for these services isn’t available to everyone, but my point is that I finally took action and found solutions to my problems instead of finding someone else to blame.
So now it’s your turn, tell me: How many times have you justified spending money on a new phone or outfit or fun activity but decided that talking to a therapist or seeing an acupuncturist to help with more substantial problems was just too expensive? How many times have you prioritized work over rest or decided against getting help because you’ve felt you should be able to do it all yourself? And how many times have you experienced a pang of resentment towards someone who’s not “doing their job” taking care of your needs?
” Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde
This month, I invite you to re-visit the concept of self-care and consider it an act of boldness and power. When we take accountability for our own health and happiness, we take control of our lives AND give the people around us the freedom they need to love us how they know best. When I stop expecting Dave to solve my problems and show his love in any specific way, we get to ENJOY each other… and that’s precisely when he surprises me with the very thoughtfulness I sometimes accuse him of not having. Last weekend, for example, he took me out on a date to Painting with a Twist, of all places! For a man who’s never picked up an art brush before, I know that’s a clear sign of true love.
PS. I do have some AMAZING recommendations if you are looking for some self-care services. See below:
PSS. I am sharing because they’ve made a difference in my life, not getting any commission on this:)