Again | Annie Holand Miller
It happened. Again. This time it took longer for me to realize it—for it to sink in.
For the past six-ish months, there have been signs. A friend recently asked me for a family picture. I scrolled through the pictures on my phone…and found VERY FEW pictures of myself. Lots of pics of my kids--even lots of my kids and my husband. But where were the pictures of me?
I do that when this happens. Don’t we all?
About a month ago, I was out for a birthday dinner with a few girlfriends. We’re the kind of girlfriends who do not see each other very often, but we’re in constant conversation via text. So, when we’re together, we like to document it! “Would you mind getting a picture of the four of us?” one of us asked our waitress. She happily took the phone from my friend, took a few steps back, and as she adjusted angles and got ready to take the picture, I felt my fake smile tense up. I just wanted to get it over with. We passed the phone around to “approve” the picture for our obligatory Facebook post, and when I got the phone in my hand, I cringed.
HOW IN THE WORLD HAD I LET MYSELF LOOK LIKE THIS?
When it happens, I become more reclusive. It isn’t just about how much weight I’ve gained. I mean, that’s definitely a big part of it. But when I get like this, it is the pure and real and ground shaking realization that, once again, I’ve neglected myself. I’m getting kids to and from school and all of their activities. I’m getting groceries and making sure dinner is on the table every night. I’m getting things crossed off of my to-do list at work, putting out fires (maybe sometimes even starting some sparks of my own), and developing new ideas. I’m working a side-gig and trying to help others who want to jump in and build, too. I’m engaging in community activities. I’m taking my kids to Sunday School and trying to instill in them all the values it takes to be a good and kind person. I’m trying to be a supportive, loving and doting wife, a good sister, a good daughter, a good friend. I’m doing it all.
Well, I’m doing it all except taking care of me.
And it shows.
I had gotten to the point that I not only had put on a ridiculous amount of weight, but I wasn’t getting enough sleep, wasn’t exercising, wasn’t reading, wasn’t even finding time for a date night much less time for myself. I would go into the bathroom during the day at work, look at myself in the mirror with pure disgust. My skin, my make-up, my hair—I just saw a thrown together mess. In my mind, I saw the pictures of the “successful” women I know who always look put together. Why can’t I be more like them?
People say it all the time: slow down! Take care of yourself! Do you ever stop?! In response, I usually put on a tense smile, internally roll my eyes, and move on to the next activity.
But this time, I had to say it to myself. This time I had to take a deep breath and decide that I had done enough damage to myself and that if nothing else would motivate me, I had to remember this: if I do not take care of myself, I can not take care of everyone else!
I often wonder who else out there is feeling this. Who else feels the pressure to be perfect for everyone else at the expense of their own wellness? And why do I do this to myself? Why do any of us do it?
Last weekend, I put on my running shoes and headed out to the trail. I used to get out on that trail just about daily. It was MY time…for pounding out frustrations, for getting time to think, and ESPECIALLY for singing my favorite songs at the top of my lungs while strategically turning around to make sure no one was behind me listening. I was reminded of all of that goodness as soon as my Pandora clicked on, and my Runkeeper was telling me it was time to start my warm-up interval.
For the past few weeks, I’ve put my food scale and measuring cups back to work. I’ve been hitting the trail. I’ve been more deliberate in putting my phone and computer down and engaging in conversations with my husband and friends. I’ve spent my weekend mornings in bed, resting and rejuvenating for the week ahead. Slowly, but surely, I am reclaiming myself.
So I’m here to tell you, without judging, without expecting anything in return, and without preaching, but with stern instructions: do something for you. Don’t try to find the time. Make the time. Pull out your coloring books. Go for a walk. Pull out your favorite book and curl up. Be deliberate.
Take care of you.
Essay by: Annie Holand Miller
Annie is a wife, mama, friend, attorney and essential oil fairy G-dmother. You can find her tribe here!