Just before Memorial Day, I boldly declared that this would be my Summer of Self Love. I wasn't exactly sure what that meant, but I knew I needed to hit the reset button on my self-care routine.
I needed to eat healthier, move my body, and sleep through the night.
I needed to spend time doing things I enjoy, things that leave me feeling fulfilled.
I wanted to show up for myself during this difficult time like I would for a friend.
Well, the first week of my self-declared Summer of Self Love flew by and I hadn't done anything to make myself feel better. Not. One. Darn. Thing.
In fact, I was feeling pretty exhausted, and to be honest, I was feeling trapped.
Trapped in a city with too many people, too much traffic, and too much noise.
Trapped in a living-to-work lifestyle instead of working to live.
Trapped in my head, my mind (not my heart) controlling every moment.
To remedy this, I did something that never comes easy to me.
I asked for help.
I've heard from other women that they feel the same way. Asking for help is hard.
We don't want to come across as "needy."
We're afraid of being rejected, judged, or worse — abandoned.
We don't want to burden someone with our problems.
We feel like we should be able to do it — all on our own.
I think that's a big part of my problem. I've said before that I have an independent spirit. I like the fact that I'm able to live alone, provide for my own needs, and do things like change my own headlights or put together my own furniture. My independence is something I both value and am proud of; but like all good qualities, it can be a double-edged sword.
I try to do too much. I try to take care of everything and everyone, all on my own, because somehow I think it's my responsibility. And then I come home, and I have to take care of myself, and sometimes I just don't have the energy. It's been all used up on other people, places, and projects.
Then the day comes when I have no food in the fridge, and the house is a mess, and the cat needs food, and the car needs gas, and the bills need to be paid, and the laundry needs washing, and a light bulb goes out that needs replacing, and I haven't gotten my mail all week, and I'm hormonal and prone to crying... and the list goes on and on... and I wonder...
What would it be like to have someone else take care of me for a change?
Seriously though, this isn't about having someone help me do any of this. It's about expending all my energy elsewhere before attending to my own needs. It's about not taking time to refill my energy reserves when I'm feeling depleted.
Last Friday, I was having one of those days, so I asked myself:
What do I need right now?
My heart responded immediately...
I needed time to reboot, refresh, and replenish.
I needed time away from my home, the city, my job, my responsibilities.
I needed time to breathe, time to rest, time to just be.
So, I called my boyfriend and asked for help. I asked him if he would go away with me for the weekend. I knew there was a good chance he'd say no, but I asked him anyway. You see, he is not a spontaneous creature. It makes him really anxious and uncomfortable when I change the routine or make last-minute plans. I also knew that he had worked his tail off that week, just like I had, and was probably feeling depleted too. Depleted to the point that going away would feel more like a chore than a relaxing escape.
I risked rejection, I risked feeling "unloved" when he said no, I risked making him unhappy (which makes me unhappy) when I told him I'm going, with or without him. I built up an arsenal of responses and comebacks for the moment he would question the sanity of this decision and would ultimately say no.
But he didn't say no. He said, "Okay, if that's what you want to do."
And so it was.
We spent the weekend on Whidbey Island, my go-to spot for relaxation and rejuvenation. Wide open spaces. Hours spent on the beach, soaking up the sun, scanning the sand for sea glass. Leaving the cares of my daily life far behind me for a few days.
I came back feeling rested and re-energized. It was exactly what I needed and reminded me how important it is for me to check in with myself every day...
To ask myself what I need.
To listen to my heart.
To respond with loving kindness.
To act on the promise of self love.
Knowing that sometimes I'll need to put my fears and pride aside to ask for help.
Knowing that sometimes I'll need to rely on someone else to say yes.
Knowing that when I do ask for help, I must be open and grateful for receiving these gifts.
Knowing that asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's an enormous act of self love.