Which Came First?

Maybe it’s the sobriety or maybe it’s the high-waisted jeans.

Everything changes when you start to do things for yourself. Last week was Valentine’s day and the internet was plastered with pink hearts and messages of self-care. Modest folx were also keen to point out that self-care is more than just warm baths and chocolates. I think Brené Brown was even quoted with distinguishing between self-care and self-love, the former including the small, little things you do for yourself, e.g., the baths and chocolates, and the latter including the deeper work of instrospection and commitment. In other words, the vulnerability of finding yourself.

So what’s better? What’s easier? What’s harder?
Do you need one before the other?
Answer: All of the above. Second answer: Ripple effect.

When you begin to make small changes in your life momentum builds. The momentum carries the power to do the next best thing. The next best thing leads to other choices. Maybe one day it’s journalling and the next it’s going to bed on time; one day it’s saying how you feel and the next resting with Netflix. The underlying factor in all of these choices is the belief that they will lead to a healthier, more balanced You.

I stopped drinking and started wearing high-waisted jeans around the same time. I joke that the jeans are the real power of motherhood. The real power of change. I get what makes this club so great. This alteration has been nothing short of a life-changing blessing. There is no shame.

All of my transformation and growth started with a chance at trying on something new.

Beyond the funny, it’s easy for me to see how those two acts changed the course of my past year. In all honestly, they changed the trajectory of my life. One action said, “I care enough about me to make a change” and the other said, “I am excited and ready for something different.” When I look closer, they were really saying the same thing: I am ready to love me.

I’ll never forget the feeling of what it felt like to choose me for the first time. I’ll never forget the ripple effect sobriety has had on my life.

I have come such a long way in doing the small acts of self-care. I’ve got a long way to go, too. However, it’s like being on a treadmill. It doesn’t really end. It keeps on going. When I think about my workout, I think of the progression–the warmup, then the run, then the run faster, then the brisk walk, then the cool down, and lastly the stretch (plus the days I don’t want to do a damn thing!). Self-care and self-love are like that, too. I imagine self-care to include the things that motivate you to start and cuddle you when you need it, the although-they-are-hard-to-ask-for they are the easier-to-attain things. Generally, there’s a lower barrier to entry. Within the workout, they are the warm-up, the cool-down, the stretch. Whereas the run in the middle is the heart of the growth; this is often the place where you love so much and feel so free AND at times want to stop because it hurts, because it’s tiring, because you’re not sure how much further you can go. When you think about it from a distance, the run is the whole reason you got on the treadmill in the first place. You could have easily picked any other activity, but this is where you know you’ll make the most impact.

This is where self-love comes back in. Self-love–which I attribute to self-compassion, grace, forgiveness, the willingness to see beyond your ego, the willingness to go to the dark side, the willingness to see the light, the willingness to live consciously, and the willingness to say you matter and you’ll do better for the world–is where the true transformation happens. It’s where you begin to love yourself deeply and kindly with a reverance that becomes unshakable.

Yet you need both. If it’s only ever a run, you’ll get burnt-out. If it’s only ever the stretch, you won’t make the growth you’re looking for.

I could go on and on with a running analogy, yet to save us all, I’ll stop. (Though, I’ll keep making the joke that mom-jeans are the real hero of my recovery, because that’s how great they are. And, psst, you don’t need to be a mom to enjoy them.)

But lately, I have been asking myself this:

If high-waisted jeans bring me such joy and shape then why am I still trying to wear things that no longer fit me? If running gives me strength and power why haven’t I made it a non-negotiable? Why is it so hard to give ourselves the things we need and deserve? When do we make the time for ourselves? Furthermore, when do our boundaries come into play and how do we wrestle with relationships while recovering?

I’ll be back with these thoughts.


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