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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Mirror Mirror On The Wall ModernRetroWomancom
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As I pulled my comfortable cotton undies up over my hips, my thumb poked a hole in them.  Not a small hole.  No, a huge thumb-all-the way-in-sized hole.  I looked up at myself in the hotel mirror and didn’t recognize the woman staring back at me.  Where was the woman who strongly encouraged her readers to only wear underwear that made them feel pretty?  As I looked at the stranger with raggedy hair staring back at me with vacant eyes, I knew where she had gone.  Fortunately for me, I was driving home from the conference I had been attending that day.  The day-long drive gave me time to think.  And think I did.

Neglecting Self-care Has Consequences

For the past four months I was so busy taking care of everyone else -both family and at work- that I had put my own self-care and needs aside. I began to ignore the warning signs that my reserves were being drained such as being angry all of the time, being unable to focus on anything, gaining 10 pounds way too easily, and binge watching extremely violent television shows instead of doing what I needed to be doing.  Homekeeping was neglected.  We sat on the couch eating dinner instead of at the table.  But worst of all was that I wasn’t fully present with The Mister during those times we were together.

I was not the person I wanted to be.  In fact, I was the antithesis of who I wanted to be.  I was an angry holey-underwear wearing woman with more lumps under my clothing than Jabba the Hutt with half-painted toenails because my pedicure was growing out and I was in desperate need of a hair cut.

 In the process of taking care of everyone else, I had lost myself.

The World Didn’t Come to an End

As I was doing my deep thinking during my drive home, I came to the realization that I need to redefine who I need to take care of.  I came to the conclusion that I need to take care of The Mister, me, and my family.  Everyone else fell into the want to and feel obligated to categories.  And I also realized that the folks in the feel obligated to category probably won’t even notice if I stopped taking care of them.  I was making myself feel guilty if I wanted to take care of myself or spend time doing something that nourished my soul instead of giving up my own time busting my backside for them.

So, instead of going to work the day after I returned from the conference, I took the day off.  And I went and got my hair cut.  It was just 3″ off the bottom but it made me feel better.  And I bought new undies.

And then on Friday, I went to work but decided that whatever I was able to get done during my working hours was good enough (I just took a peek at my work email and the world did not come to an end because I stopped work at the end of normal business hours on Friday).

I spent yesterday “nesting” and sewing and hanging out with The Mister and have been restocking the freezer today with healthy breakfast options I just need to reheat before eating (like steel-cut oatmeal and spinach-egg frittata).

Ruthless Self-care

If I had a serious illness, no one would think twice about my need to take care of myself so that I could fully recover.  But, as women, I think we make excuses and feel selfish if we need to engage in mental and physical self-care so that we can be healthy. 

But if we aren’t ruthless about protecting our need for self-care, then we use up our reserves and are of no use to the people we love…including ourselves.

So that I can once again recognize the woman looking back at me in the mirror and become the glamorous woman I want to be, I will be ruthless about engaging in self-care.

 Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some half-painted toenails to attend to…

Have you ever been in the same situation where you wondered who it was staring back at you because you were so burnt out?  What kind of self-care did you do to replenish your reserves?

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8 Comments

  1. Good for you! We all fall prey to self neglect at times; especially when we are so busy carrying lovingly for others! God bless and take care! So enjoy your posts!

  2. I’m glad you took some time for yourself. I usually stay home and drink tea and read a good book. Also sorting puts my mind in another place. Like folding clothes , playing solitaire, and even just sorting the button box does it for me.

  3. Thank you for your kind words Chris and Julie! I did read the second Harry Potter book over the weekend, so I know what you mean about reading a good book. And, isn’t it funny how just sorting things can be so soothing!

  4. I learned a valuable lesson about a dozen years ago. I’d always been terrified that people wouldn’t like me if I didn’t put them first — and then, a situation happened where I couldn’t put them first for a while. And guess what? Some of them really, really, resented it and said some very nasty things. My worst fears were realized. But the world didn’t stop turning because of it and I took a hard look at exactly how much I wanted people like that in my life. Some of those who dropped me like a bad habit came around later when it was their turn for a major crisis and they finally understood that I’d had no choice but to take care of me first. Those who didn’t, I don’t miss. I chose to focus on those with whom I was able to have healthier relationships, and to appreciate them more instead of always being dragged away by drama queens while nice people got neglected (but were too nice to say so). It was a painful time, but ultimately, I am so much happier than I ever was before. Not just because I have new, good people in my life (and the best of the old ones) but because I am happy with ME.

    I hope you soon find yourself happier than ever, too. 🙂

    1. Maria, that IS a very valuable lesson (and one I learned while I was working on my dissertation eons ago–my true friends understood that I needed to focus on finishing up my doctorate).

      My problem was that I let things at work get out of balance…especially since I need (want) to support The Mister as he cares for his elderly parents. Knowing that I need/want to be there for My Mister, I should have been firm about my work boundaries (instead of working on stuff at night and on weekends) and the crazy-making caused by a couple of my co-workers.

      My graduate assistants are totally awesome and took it upon themselves to finish up a big project this week so that I could focus on some of my other responsibilities.

      As I focus on taking care of myself (and not feeling guilty about the nap I took this afternoon!), I feel my reserves starting to be replenished and I’m starting to feel like my old self again.

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