When Diana and I went to New York about a month ago, it was the first time in a very long time that I could remember being totally unplugged, in the moment and enjoying myself. I felt it was a great realization, as if a weight had been lifted. I realized that I was feeling the physical manifestation of stress and wasn't taking care of myself. Work and parenting were taking a toll, even when I enjoyed them, because I wasn't taking care of myself. It all came to a head two weeks ago when I was let go, and it has taken much of the time since to kind of review, reassess and adjust priorities.
Five years ago today-ish, we decided for sure to get the hell out of Ohio, after the poor decision to leave Seattle to live in my then-unsellable house. I'm not going to write about that move again, but as I said then, it was a decision that came after months of reflection. When I look back at what I wrote, there's a lot of clarity there about working in something career stage-appropriate, being a solid and present parent, being a husband and all of that fell under the general theme of taking care of myself. Aside from the stress related to the financing of our (first) house in Orange County, I followed through and felt excellent for that next year.
Since that time, I think I started to get out of practice when it came to self-care. I've been going at life non-stop and slowly stopped watching what I eat, I was skipping morning walks to do work, or working late and skipping Simon time, and the worst thing is that I stopped taking time to just do nothing and contemplate life. Seriously, when is that last time you just sat down somewhere, closed your eyes and thought about stuff? Bedtime doesn't count. Self-care starts with being self-aware, and the understanding that no matter what your support system entails, no matter what you do for a living, your ability to thrive begins with you.
Obviously it goes beyond thinking about yourself in a non-trivial fashion. Sometimes you need to do stuff for yourself, even if it's the goofy self-indulgent stuff like going to a spa or buying something you want but don't need. It's doing stuff that you enjoy that maybe others aren't interested in. We have a weird cultural thing going on where we lump in self-care with narcissism, and that isn't right. It's OK to "treat yo self" periodically.
I am honestly not sure yet what it is I need, because life is different than it was five years ago. But I'm going to take the time to figure it out because I was definitely neglecting myself.