The Challenge of Self-Care

I hate disruption. Or, I should clarify that I hate being the cause of disruption. As a person my goal is to generally fly under the radar and only be noticed or cause issues when I’m intentionally choosing to do so. Otherwise I want things to be smooth, easy, and chill. Peace. I want things to be peaceful. And to be perfectly honest, most of what triggers that feeling of unrest is more within myself and has to do with small menial things than anything else. Its the little stuff. I don’t want to be that guy who has an opinion about dinner that causes everyone else to have to change their opinions. I go with the flow. Even when I’m all alone I still function in this way. I don’t even want to put myself out! I don’t even want to hassle myself with annoying tasks that cause irritation or extra “pointless” work. And so brushing my teeth is annoying to me. I remember as a child being overwhelmed with the thought of having to brush my teeth multiple times a day…forever. Forever!There’s no end to it! You never finish, you never get to check the ‘toothbrushing box’ and say you’re done! Ugh. I could go on and on about these types of things, but that’s not really the point.

Today I find myself living in an alternative reality where tooth brushing is the absolute last of my worries. My morning routine has grown so huge that I have deemed it worthwhile to share with you. The point here isn’t to complain because it’s very likely that it’s normal for many of you to take this long to get ready–for me, however, it feels like a trap. For me I can feel  my family staring at me and thinking: “oh my goodness, daddy is holding up our entire life with this long morning routine of his. I wish he’d stop doing some of it; I wish he’d hurry up!” For myself, this goes against my naturally identity and is requiring great internal adjustments. As a nine on the enneagram (to learn more about the enneagram this is a good website: http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/) this new morning routine is inviting me into a different reality, one marked by self-care beyond what I normally allow. So this blog, in reality, is not about complaints, it’s not even about the added stress of more work. No, this blog is about me learning self-care.

Let me go ahead and skip what happens in the AM prior to getting ready for the day ’cause I often wake up excessively early and read, post on Facebook, write, or mess around on my phone. That stuff doesn’t really count all that much into what I’m generally commenting on this morning. I also will not include what I do for others (make breakfast, etc.) ’cause what I want to capture is this new challenge of self-care. So here’s my new morning routine…

  1. Take my large pile of pills with food (implication: eat my own breakfast before everyone else eats theirs)
  2. Pick out my clothes and grab all necessary items for the day (toiletries, backpack, books, etc.) to bring downstairs where I’ll shower and attempt to stay for the entire day. The goal is to not have to return to the third-story until bedtime due to the dangerous stairs and my inability to traverse them effectively anymore
  3. Invite someone to watch or spot me going down the stairs (it’s fun being a constant trip hazard!) for safety sake
  4. Go to the bathroom (yes, this is more of a task than it used to be) and if/when it doesn’t work…catheterize
  5. Prior to showering make sure everything is within proper reach (towels, clothes, etc.) because once I sit down on my old man showering seat getting very far can be a dangerous exercise for a wet and slippery trip hazard like myself
  6. Without going into detail (you’re welcome) showering while sitting takes quite a bit longer than a normal showering process–as does toweling off. There is a necessary order to how things must happen so that I end up clean and all that jazz. (enough said? I thought so)
  7. Now clean, dry, and still seated I have to apply some more medicines on my feet and other places (enough said? I thought so)
  8. Also, due to those glorious and always present prescription-caused side affects it’s now time to lotion up. For a few minutes I cover elbows, legs, etc. in a layer of lotion. Virtually my entire body needs a little sumthin’ sumthin’.  I used to avoid this step until my elbows and knees started to fall off (that’s not a joke. I’m pretty sure they almost did). I literally turn into a crispy cracker if I don’t lotion up (literally.)
  9. Still seated it’s time to get on socks (especially important in order to protect the medicine on my feet) and shorts. The shirt will wait as long as humanly possible because otherwise I’ll have to change it before heading out in the morning. The morning routine of what I’m describing, making and eating breakfast with the fam, and getting the kids ready to go (Jess does the bulk of everything in/for this family, but I give what I can and it varies depending on the day) will leave me literally dripping and pouring sweat.
  10. After getting half dressed (I should mention that even getting on socks, underwear, and anything involving my legs has become quite the challenge as my leg has stopped working) I finally stand up so that I can look in the mirror and tell myself that I’m worth it
  11. Now comes the regular stuff: deodorant, brushing of teeth, doing hair, etc. Nothing new here.

There are those other routine things like the morning cup o’ coffee, checking the weather, letting the dog out–but those are all optional or chore-ish items. I don’t consider those forced self-care. There is also the matter of what I’ve got to do just to go to bed at night. Oh, and then there’s the implications for my wife, what this requires of her, and how this has changed her routines! Maybe this list feels somewhat normal to you in its length, but for myself it has forced me into some self-work that I’ve spent much of my adult life avoiding. As a person who abhors what feels like meaningless self-care items, this all feels like torture. I don’t want to worry about myself like this. It’s annoying and worthless I tell ya! And yet I am learning how incredibly important it truly is. All of this has been quite a journey for sure because my old morning routine list was probably four bullet points long: urinate (successfully), shower, get dressed, and the (11.) usual items. Oh how things have changed.

For some of you this blog might be annoying because self-care is not only easily accessed, but it’s the actual filter through which you view your world. For some of you self-care is easy, it’s not a challenge. For some of you, you look at the little list I drew up and you’re irritated that I find it something worth commenting on because it describes your daily routine for much of your life. I do, however, think that there is a common ground that we can find together in all of this. All of us are constantly being invited into change. There’s not a single one of us that is not somehow or somewhere in our lives being invited into a transformative journey of change, struggle, and movement. For myself it is coming in the form of seemingly menial tasks such as brushing teeth (among other things right?). For you…well…I guess that’s a question that I’m not going to try to answer! What is it that you’re being invited into right now? What does your self-work look like today, tomorrow, and in your extended future? Unlike me you may not be forced into your work, but instead are being gently invited into it. Are you ready, willing, and open to jumping in? Dipping your toe in the water? Diving head first?

4 thoughts on “The Challenge of Self-Care

  1. I do not find your new routine annoying. Although being a woman automatically triples your morning routine, so you’re catching up with us now.

    I can understand a little because I’ve just come from the gym. This upset my routine considerably – pack a gym bag with toiletries, makeup, hair dryer, clothes, shoes, jewelry, towel. Pack water, laptop, paperwork, snacks for work. Schlep gym bag (now the size and weight of a large suitcase) into the locker room. Work out. Shower in a new (and very slippery) environment. Decide how naked you want to be in public. Walk back and forth to locker 16 times for items you need. Take 1.5 times the usual to do hair and makeup. Realize you forgot hair spray and lotion (postmenopausal skin is pretty crunchy, too). Field 3 phone calls and 11 texts. Pack up very wet items along w/sweaty gym clothes. Try to look put together.

    I wish you were just going to the gym. Then we could laugh about it together as we leave, dripping in sweat from the exertion of the new routine. Change is inevitable, but it isn’t always fun, is it?

  2. I have always struggled with these types of things because my mind does not work well in time-related frameworks. If I have to do something daily, it MUST occur every day; if weekly, it MUST occur every week or I will not be able to remember. My boss was so confused by the fact that I could not remember to come to a bi-monthly meeting: it took me six months to adjust to something that happened outside the day and week frameworks by which my other quotidian and hebdomadal tasks are shaped.(btw the book The Quotidian Mysteries and it’s larger version Acedia and Me are worth the read).

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