Last week something changed, another switch flipped and I decided I was tired of feeling like me. Tired. Drained. Empty.
I re-read my DBT binder from intensive outpatient therapy. Hmmm. I am not doing well with self care. In fact I was self hurting.
- I was staying up until nearly 4am every night and staying in my room until noon.
- I was not doing basic hygiene regularly, only when I needed to go somewhere outside the house, which is usually only once per week. (Actually two consecutive days, but my worn out brain figured yesterdays shower was good enough)
- I was only going outside for counseling, dr appointments, running light errands. Not actually spending time outside, just walking from the house to the car.
- I was not getting daily or even much weekly exercise.
- I was eating poorly, even binged a few times.
So I did not suddenly see all of this in myself. No. What I saw was my children, turning into depressed couch potatoes. My children, who normally have so much energy we can’t contain it, barely able to move. My children saying, nah, don’t feel like a bike ride or going to the playground. My children lounging in yesterday’s filthy clothes, too tired to change. My children cranky, irritable, snapping at each other instead of playfully making jokes.
Wow. The transformation was incredible. What happened? They had no schedule or structure with school being out. We can’t afford any sports this summer with me not working, so they are all just home, with nothing to do. And with me in bed, partly recovering from surgery, partly my odd sleep schedule, they had transformed and were showing signs of depression.
My brain hurt at this realization.
My stupid binder was right. I was hurting myself. And my kids.
I tried telling hubby my concerns and he was quite unresponsive. He is working so much he was unable to comment on the changes I am seeing.
So I decided on my own to make a change. Because I am mom, I can do this. I can do for them what I can’t for myself.
I told the kids that starting tomorrow we would have one daily activity. It has some rules. They can help me choose the location, give input, but ultimately it is up to me. Here are the rules I created.
- We will drive to this location, it is far enough from home to require this
- We will spend at least 30 minutes outside (unless terrible weather)
- We will be active during the 30 minutes, moving our bodies, walking, playing, etc
- We will go to a new location every day
So we started this mandatory anti couch potato activity 4 days ago. We have gone to 2 playgrounds and 2 nature preserves. We have invented new games. We learned eggplants have purple flowers. We explored a lean-to someone built in the forest.
When we got home, they asked about setting up the badminton net instead of heading back to the couch. We all played badminton. That was a bonus, not forced or mandatory. The neighbor kids saw us playing and asked to join. Awesome! Yes!
So this is working. I started taking melatonin at night to get back on track. That plus daily sun and exercise is helping me sleep-at night.
I may not be making money, but I am a damn good mom, and I am finally seeing how important I am to them. I am giving them life long lessons, values, hopes, strength. All the things I need. Maybe, just a fleeting thought here, is it possible I do have these things, because if I see them in my children it is a reflection of me? Can I give what I don’t have? Maybe I am not as empty as I feel, it is all somehow hidden from me. Does any of this make sense?