A few weeks ago my friend sent me a video of my son and me.
(Read Part One.)
I watched it. Once. Twice. Three times. I tried to relate to the girl in the video. I couldn’t. She didn’t look like me at all. She looked worn, unhealthy and skinny. For the first time in over a year I saw myself the way others were seeing me. I was able to see my true reflection in a ten second video that my mirror would not provide.
I understood for the first time that no one was judging me, no one was criticising me. People were just worried, people just cared. There was no life in this woman. Oh my god. What have I done? I had neglected to look after myself in every way.
I felt defeated. I felt an intense sense of failure. I felt sick. How had I neglected myself so much that what I felt on the inside was showing on the outside? I thought I had hidden my grief well, I thought I looked well groomed. I thought I appeared to be coping. Yet as I walked into my bathroom and looked at myself from a whole new perspective it was all too clear. The effects of caffeine, barely snacking and lack of sleep were staring me right in the face.
I had without a doubt neglected to look after myself. Skipping meals had done nothing but drain me of the vital vitamins and nutrients I needed. My hair was dry and ratty looking. My face was pale and my cheek and collar bones prominent. I had dark bags under my eyes and skin was yellow. The grief I tried so hard to control and keep in check gave me away. It showed all over my body but could be seen the most in my eyes. They were hollow, dull and glazed over. They were empty of life.
My paranoia and fear that I would lose my son had created an obsession to look after him perfectly. I hadn’t even thought about myself. I had no urge to try and look pretty. I wasn’t paying attention to how many meals I was eating. I didn’t think it mattered how little sleep I was getting. I reasoned this all out: I was “busy”, I was “overwhelmed”, but the truth was I just didn’t care.
The only thing I cared about was looking after my son. He was my priority. He came first. Nothing else mattered as long as he had three meals a day, was healthy, active, and social. In focusing on my son I missed a key element. If something happens to me, what happens to my son? Who will look after him?
He has already lost his father. Would he lose his mother too?
I love him more than life itself, but what is the point if I have no energy and am not physically capable of showing it? I need to be healthy in order to effectively raise my son. I do not want to go through the rest of my life not being able to enjoy anything because I’m too tired, or I feel sick, or I have a migraine. I don’t want my son thinking “Oh mummy’s sick again”, or “We never do anything because mummy is too tired”.
I refuse to let that happen.
It’s been a month since I saw that video and had this revelation. Since then I’ve made a conscious effort to take better care of myself.
I sent my son to his grandparents for a week so I could focus on myself. I have decided that he will do this a few times a year so I have the time to rejuvenate and regroup. I’ve been slowly forcing myself to eat three meals a day consisting of vegetables and meat, not just pieces of toast. Breakfast is a struggle and while I still miss days here and there, I am working on it.
I make sure I go to bed before ten pm, and some days sneak a nap when Tyler has his. I have gotten my hair cut, had my nails done and even done a bit of shopping. These small changes have made big differences. I’m not as short tempered, I have more energy to play with my son, and I am hoping to start putting on some weight.
I realized this past month that in trying to be unselfish in looking after my son, I somehow became selfish by neglecting myself. I lost the love of my life, my soul mate my other half. And for a while I lost myself too. But I now know I can find myself again. I owe it to Daniel, I owe it to Tyler. I owe it to MYSELF.