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Hanging onto ourselves.

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Sunrise Day 2 (I slept through sunrise day 1)

I am at the beach this week. A few months ago, in my infinite wisdom, I asked a friend if she wanted to go to the beach. It’s been a few years since we had been together. She’s a chef and her restaurant is always slow early January after a super busy holiday season, obviously. It doesn’t hurt that during the winter months it’s pretty easy and cheap to find a house. So over the weekend we packed up her car and headed out.

I felt immediately better pulling away from my house. My 2014 was not good. By any stretch. I have had numerous personal struggles including the loss of my sister last February, our beloved dog (who we credit helping keep our son alive) in April and my mother in July. My loss and grief has been so layered I’ve felt smothered.

I realize I am extremely lucky to be at the beach with a friend. My husband and friends make it possible. It also helps our kids are stable from failing kidneys and livers and they are stable mentally and well, I had to go.

Do you hear me? I had to do something to relieve the pressure, so I left.

It’s a seven-day trip of peaceful retreat with absolutely no schedule, little work (I have very understanding clients) and plenty of books to read and essays to write, bikes to ride and beach chairs to sit in. It is heaven.

I think a lot about all of the parents with stressful lives because they are raising sick or intense kids and I get how impossible this looks. I am a fairly good advocate for myself along with my kids and I make myself do things just for me. I also write for fun, scrapbook, sew, craft, create group altered books and see friends often. In order to keep parenting my kids well, it’s essential I take time from them to be myself.

I sat on the beach yesterday. It was a cool 60 degrees with sun to warm me and I started crying. It was that moment I realized that no matter what happens in my life that is out of my control, be it people harming me deliberately, the loss of loved ones, the organ failure of my kids or an unforeseen crisis, I am still with me.

I thought about what it means to still be with me and it means I have to look out for myself. I have to make sure I get what I need with the fierceness I fight for my kids. It means when someone harms me, they have to make it right, that burden isn’t mine. It means that when I’m feeling overwhelmed it doesn’t matter if no one notices… it matters only and most, that I notice. It matters that I care enough for myself and for my kids’ mom to make sure I get the space and time I need to process what I have to in order to move forward.

For me, there’s a certain healing property of the ocean and being here reminded me that while the world is big with the responsibilities I have and the sometime injustice I face, that I’m still important in the vastness. I’ve been able to write and read and sleep and laugh and eat and drink (mango margaritas, thankyouverymuch) with reckless abandon. I’ve been able to stop and think and feel.

In just a few short days I’ve had a lot of clarity. The kind that hits you over the head and makes you cry before you even know what is happening. I know, without a doubt, no matter what forces pulled me into an abyss last year, I will not let them pull me away from myself. I’m a pretty good person for myself to hang onto.

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Related: Remember this self-care post? Is self-care possible in special needs parenting? 

 

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