Self-care, you should do that

posted by Jeff | Thursday, February 21, 2019, 11:30 AM | comments: 0

In the last 15 years or so, I've seen a therapist on and off, for various reasons, and lately just to keep myself checked in when things are not obvious and my head isn't in a productive place. For the last few years, my reasons for those visits generally have to do with parenting or work and career. Both of those areas can be challenging at times.

I started going back again late last year, seeing her about a month or two apart, as I was feeling mentally exhausted, like all of the time. These sessions are generally very focused, because after years of doing this, I know how to prepare and where to start the narrative, even if I don't know exactly where it will go (and since it's on my own dime, I want outcomes... I can get a shoulder to cry on at home). This week, she understood the exhaustion related to parenting and offered some suggestions to roll with that, but the work side of it was a little harder to unpack. Not being a Type-A overachiever personality, she wondered why I was so invested and thinking about work at all parts of the day. We know that some of it is just the scope of responsibility, and me learning to delegate the right way at this scale. She shifted the conversation toward times that I've felt present and connected, and I learned some interesting things.

My most content times, where the world at large is not my concern, tend to come when I'm engaged in something else that I enjoy or care about. It's not that work is a dominant concern, it's that I don't have a lot of things to displace it from my head. I just don't engage in fun things strictly for me very often. I used to play more video games, and I used to get out and walk in the mornings (I haven't figured out how to do this not working remote), or I would even make the time to build and rebuild Lego sets. I used to regularly have lunch with my friend. Now, I mostly rely on the idea that I'm going to take a vacation eventually, but even that doesn't qualify as the self-care that I need, because in those situations I'm really looking after my little family, not myself.

I've set myself up for this: As a parent and provider, and a leader with wide scope at work, I exist in large part to serve others. This is certainly a noble and good thing to be, but it will absolutely be exhausting if I never take the time to back off and just do stuff for me. I can see this at home... Simon escapes from the grind of school and difficult social interaction by playing video games. Diana gets inspired and cranks out beautiful quilts and wall hangings in her amazing sewing room. The cats actively find ways to give few shits about my presence. Everyone does something to feed their soul and recharge but me.

So yeah, I need to carve out me time. I'm not sure what exactly for, but I need some side hustles to displace the constant parenting and work mental weights occupying my head. I used to be way more selfish and willing to follow my bliss, but lately I don't even know what that looks like. I'm not a broken person, but I'm definitely tired and I need to change that. Maybe it starts with seeing a movie, or a massage, or some kind of project I didn't know I wanted to try.

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