I suck at putting myself first.
Or fifty-second, for that matter.
Is this a mom thing? Or just me.
As I lay on the table at my physical therapy appointment on Wednesday, the therapist attacking my leg (technically, my iliotibial band, which I still haven’t actually located anatomically yet) with what looks like a bumpy rolling-pin stick of evil,
commenting on how this really is one of their more torturous tasks – which I would wholeheartedly agree with if I could get my gritted teeth to separate, instead grunting in agreement – and I had to ask myself:
“How did it come to this?”
From my twenties to mid-thirties, I lived at the gym. I didn’t like it, but I did it.
(Funny, how then I also had a metabolism, so I didn’t need that level of activity nearly as much as I do now.)
I tried, as hard as I could, to get to the gym once I had my kids. It wasn’t easy. I joined Weight-Watchers, lost the weight. Stopped Weight-Watchers, put the weight back on. As you do.
We moved to the UK. I gained some weight (oh, what is this lovely thing – a sausage roll you say? A beef and potato pasty?? Yes, please!) then lost most of it, generally due to dog walking and starting to run because I didn’t care much for the gym.
THEN we returned to the US: Hello, fast food-and-double-stuffed-Oreos-and-food-laden-with-high-fructose-corn-syrup. And I gained more weight.
Also, during all this UK and back-to-the-US time, I developed a little cough. Which turned into a chronic cough. Which I still have. Not quite diagnosed. Maybe asthma, but nothing helps. Maybe silent reflux – but nothing is helping there, either.
I’ve seen the asthma doc. I’ve seen the regular doc. I’ve been given a number of a pulmonologist by one doc, the name of a gastrointestinal doc by another. No one knows which part should get a scope first. Not reassuring.
I haven’t made an appointment with either. Ostensibly, I’m afraid of what they might find. More so, I’m afraid I’ll go through a bunch of nasty tests, and they WON’T find anything.
It’s easy to put things off when you have homework to help with, arguments to referee, tangled dog hair to brush out. Google something. Spend time online researching towns that we might need to relocate to for work, even though we don’t know if we need to move yet.
It’s become easy to put myself last.
So the physical therapist. In February, I went back to the gym. I was going to lose this damn weight. As I worked out with a trainer, my hip started popping. And then it hurt.
Soon, it started to hurt after EVERYTHING. I didn’t go to the doctor. I stopped going to the gym, instead.
I gained weight while forgetting everything I KNOW about eating healthy. I have a love affair with carbs that is just wrong, wrong. I stay up too late. I don’t drink enough water.
Frankly, I’m doing everything wrong. (Interestingly, this is the best my cholesterol has been in forever. It’s actually back in normal range. So there’s that. But only that. )
I finally got myself to a orthopedist, who took gave me a diagnosis I still don’t understand. There were a lot of fancy terms, and bursitis, and iliotibial and piriformis, but really it all sounds like I have tight hips.
Very wide, tight hips mind you.
Apparently, tight hips are not good.And a tight muscle is snapping across my hipbone like a rubber band. You could say I’m tightly stretched. Or wound. You wouldn’t be wrong. The physical therapist who massages my backside in a less pleasant that you would imagine way is taking care of one bit, but I don’t know how to manage the rest.
I don’t know how to put myself first yet strike a life balance. I know flight attendants always say “put on your own air mask first before assisting others around you” but I don’t know how to do it. I’m sure it sounds odd, but there you go.
Also, I feel as startled and disturbed most days as the woman in the illustration looks.
Yesterday was my birthday. I’m officially in the second half of my forties now, and I can’t keep putting myself last. I need to take care of myself. I need to do more for myself, and figure out how to do it without feeling selfish (despite the fact that taking care of myself so that I’m around longer is a huge gift to give to my family).
I’m Italian, after all. Guilt weighs heavily in my nature.
Also, with the whole “what do you want for your birthday bit”, I realized that it wasn’t as much that I didn’t want anything – it was that I didn’t feel like I deserved anything.
The latter thought needs to get shaken as much as my hips do in an exercise class.
I’m stretching like a good girl, and my hip pain is starting to ease a bit. I’m starting to move more, and I’m back to the gym – as best as I can with kids who are really too old to go to the “kids club” (aka: nursery). I’m loading up my iPod with good apps like MyFitnessPal and a FitDeck to keep me on track. I’ve been doing “Just Dance” with my daughter to burn extra calories and giggle.
I might actually live on the wild side and make that long overdue appointment for a haircut! Heck, I might even get crazy and book a manicure/pedicure with the gift card I got for Christmas and have been holding onto for a rainy day/when I really deserve it.
After all, I’m not getting any younger.
If you have advice on how to get my shit together and take care of me: fire away.
I’m better at doing things when I’m given permission. Or being told off