exercising self-care in the absence of caring parenting #recovery #mentalwellness
July 12, 2014 § Leave a comment
It was extremely difficult to take the day off yesterday for self-care. It felt good to rest my knee and give it a chance to heal. It was hard to take time off work to do that. I managed to use some of my rest time to do work on my laptop computer and that eased the pressure a bit. The issue of self care has dogged me since as early as I can remember. When my mother was not ill with paranoid schizophrenia she was an excellent mother and caregiver. What little skills I have came from those elusive moments. I was thinking yesterday that self care is like a psychological muscle centre. If it is not trained and exercised it atrophies and languishes from disuse.
During my formative years I was left alone to care for myself before I had any knowledge or skill in doing so. I turned to ‘solutions’ that were easily at hand and provided short term respite from my painful condition. For example, I remember coming home from school – this must have been junior high school age 13 or 14 years. Every afternoon I had a ritual when I got home. I made myself a big bowl of vanilla ice-cream covered with Rogers Golden Syrup and whole walnuts. I would take this huge bowl of comfort and sit down to watch Star Trek reruns. They were on every afternoon so I basically watched the entire series this way. During this period of my life I cannot remember anything else of that typical day. I can’t remember what I did after the show was over, I can’t remember dinner, I can’t remember what happened in the evening.
I don’t remember any parental care during this time. I remember spending a lot of time alone. This was the time I developed an eating disorder and I also became obsessed about my weight. I also started exercising compulsively.
We lived in a wonderful house built by my mother and father before my brothers were born. They had attended a course with an architect who taught them to design and build their own home. Yes, my father and mother built that house and it is still standing today. The house was situated on a 1/8 acre of land with apple trees, wild hyacinthe, and a creek running along the east edge of the property. It was an idyllic setting for raising a family. I walked to school everyday and came home for lunch.
During my ‘ice cream period’ my mother was profoundly affected by her mental illness. Part of her expression of this condition was to keep the house clean. I don’t remember the bathroom ever being dirty, and the kitchen was always clean – no dishes piled up by the sink. I don’t remember the floors being dirty, and I always had clean clothes to wear to school. She took care of all that, making it invisible to me. I was never required to do any housework. I never learned how to manage a household. She did it all, I guess while I was at school.
By this time I had lost my first dog, Rags, and later, my second dog, Lady, as well as her litter of puppies. They had disappeared without a trace.