Some will think this story extremely bizarre, and I’m right with you on that. Some will find this story describes an ongoing struggle they’ve lived with for years, and I’m right with you on that, too.
In preparation for moving from a very large house to a very small one, I’ve been cleaning out drawers, cabinets, vanities, and closets; following William Morris’s advice – “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
I have come across so many bottles of beautifully scented body lotion, special hair care products, creams and gels that promise amazing results. If only I would use them. I’ve found expired vitamins and supplements that might have been useful before they expired a decade ago, had I swallowed them. I’ve long known that I don’t treat myself as a beloved being. I’ve tried to change that time and again, by reflecting on such wisdom as, “Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others,” “Love yourself as your neighbor,” and “You have to love yourself before anyone else can love you,” (that last one isn’t true, by the way).
I’ve long been puzzled by the fact that I can’t seem to maintain a level of self-care I would offer to someone else. I had an ‘Aha’ moment the other day, though. On examining a collection of lotions, I determined it was finally time to get rid of them. Partially used body products aren’t something you give to anyone else. And since there really is no ‘away’ where I can throw them, I didn’t want to put them in the trash or pour them down the drain. The plastic containers need to be recycled. The lids need to go to an artist friend who’s collecting them for a public art project. What to do. Well, I thought, I could use them. So now I’m pampering my body with lotions and special care products daily so that I can be ‘good’ by not throwing them in the landfill.
I’ve learned that a primary motivating factor in my childhood was to be ‘a good girl’. The definition may have varied from your experience, but my criteria were; make your parents proud, always be responsible, always do your best, don’t waste anything, do not complain, don’t be loud. To mention a few.
I’m at a loss for how to live in a way that makes my parents proud. They’re gone. Instead, I try to make other people proud. When I floss my teeth (still not daily), I’m thinking my dental hygienist will be so proud of me when I see her again.
Maybe it’s alright to just let this bizarre motivation work for a while. It really doesn’t matter why I floss, it only matters that I floss. Perhaps someday I’ll be flossing because I love my teeth and want to take care of them. Maybe I’ll be loving my body with beautifully scented lotion as an expression of self-care. But for now, it’s alright if my primary motivation is to prove, to anyone, that I’m a good girl. Let’s see where else I can consciously apply this lesson…..