For so long I just didn't care what I looked like, I was in survival mode. I wore an over sized green hoodie sweatshirt from my hometown of St. Louis because it was safe and real life felt so chaotic and sickening. Sometimes I slept in it and kept it on the next day too. After too many days in a row after too many weeks in a row I let big green rest on a hanger in my closet. I up'ed my game and donned black yoga pants and a t-shirt daily. I didn't do a lick of yoga. My appearance was totally a stay at home mom cliche.
Each morning I awoke already exhausted. I had been up numerous times the evening before, sucked into a whirlwind of horrific thoughts. Thoughts of the future were unbearable. Thoughts of the past were a sucker punch. Simple, easy, perfect then. Over. Thoughts of the present were a nightmare from which I couldn't wake and took more than I had strength for. I had no where left for my mind to go.
We ran from appointment to appointment each day. Assessments, therapy, screaming, tired, numb. I tumbled out of bed each morning and landed somewhere near my coffee machine. I threw on the uniform. Black yoga pants and t shirt. No makeup. What's the point? I wanted my outsides to match my insides- empty. Big bold life was pointless- makeup was a million miles below that. Beautiful shades of my favorite colors were sucked from my life. I was so angry with everyone else in the world that this wasn't happening to.
And so (so) s l o w l y like everything in my life over the past few years, I began to defrost. I still am in many ways. I began to remember the ways that life was a gift- the ways that autism hadn't stolen. At first they were tiny and I had to search for them through squinted eyes. And then they grew. I was shocked to see there were still so many.
And finally about a year ago, I traded in the yoga pants for clothes. I still sacrifice fashion for comfort most days- but it isn't so dire. I started to get excited about a new shirt or pants or lipstick. It was the realization that I started to care about me again. A few months ago I discovered THIS BEAUTY BLOG- Maskcara. I love when we find a new blogger we feel like we are the very first ones on earth to unveil their coolness. I DISCOVERED CARA!!! You know- Right after 100,000 people discovered her too. For the first time- probably since 8th grade I was excited about makeup.
Yesterday morning while the kids were in therapy I went and just played at Sephora. I tried EVERY SINGLE THING available on this "best of" list. It was so much fun. They give free mini makeovers, so the makeup artist Staci and I just played. There were no goals, to treatment plans, no assessments, nothing concrete accomplished- just a focus on me and it was AMAZING.
Who wudda thunk there could be so much love and healing and nurturing in taking care of yourself? I thought makeup was something superficial- but it can be so much deeper. I discovered I didn't need to be a selfless martyr to be a good mom. I am discovering I am worth time and attention too.
I feel perfectly acceptable walking out of the house without makeup on, but when I invest time in myself and love the glow on the girl in the mirror I feel even better. I left Sephora feeling beautiful. The mall was blasting music and I couldn't help but walk with a dance in my step. ABC by the Jackson 5, OMD- If you Leave, John Mayer- Why Georgia Why? (He seems like a bit of a douche as a guy, but his lyrics are outstanding- Cause I wonder sometimes about the outcome of a still verdictless life. Am I living it right? Am I living it right? Am I living it right?
I realized I was embedded in a moment of feeling simply content. Suddenly I realized this entire little trip was planned just for ME by God. Surprises were being laid out before me everywhere. Starbucks, makeup, music, alone time. Surprises I wouldn't have recognized before. Sometimes these types of moments are so lovely they are almost painful. Maybe I never saw them before because I didn't need them so much. Maybe they were there all along and I wasn't raw and open enough to notice them. The thing about being scrubbed raw by life- it makes you more sensitive to the good things too. I hope I am always raw enough to notice all my gifts waiting for me.
Here's my after. Please note the copious application of happy. Repeat after me- I AM WORTH SPENDING TIME ON.
There's been a lot of self help and reflection going on here. A couple of months ago Michael and I started to go to marriage counseling. We struggle with intimacy and communication; a faulty foundation built long before autism was in our life. But WE were put on the back burner during survival mode and it was finally time for us to invest in US.
I wish you could have seen our therapists face when I asked her to take our picture. And Michael was supposed to be making a mad face like he was yelling- but he was laughing too hard.
I felt weird about it at first. Like we are bad or broken. "I go to weekly marriage therapy"- is one of those things most people keep private and many people feel ashamed of. I am realizing- we are showing up and doing the hard work- we shouldn't be ashamed of this kind of stuff. We should be proud. No marriage is perfect.
I wasn't sure if I would write about it. And then I wanted to wait until I figured something out first. I wanted an epiphany- resolution- a lesson. But it's not that easy- real life isn't so concise (darn). It's slow. It's so hard to dig through a closet where things have been shoved into; slamming the door so nothing leaked out for years. After therapy I am exhausted. But we are slowly sifting through and searching for ourselves in the midst of marriage. It's hard. We are investing time in our relationship because it's important. WE are worth it.
Shew. All of that feels scary and good to say. Others truths have set me free and I hope to do the same. Sometimes we are the only ones thinking we are going through something hard and we all end up sitting in our isolated silence, longing for another voice to say me too.