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Self Care

It’s Time to Come Clean

I’ve been keeping secrets.
I’ve been hiding truths.
But it’s time to come clean.

My mother and grandmother used to take me shopping. Not often, but when we did, it was really special. I got to spend time with them — just me and them. Trying on dresses and cute jackets and beautiful shoes.

We didn’t have a lot of money and my mother rarely bought things for herself. But they seemed to love giving me this kind of attention. And as the girl living in the home with the alcoholic parents who screamed and fought and threw things through windows, it felt so good to be out in public, pretending we were normal, buying pretty things and having lunch.

A seemingly simple thing on the surface. I loved those shopping dates. But I had no idea how they imprinted my brain with the idea that love = cute dresses. Love = beautiful shoes. Love = shopping. Love = spending money.

As you might imagine, I am the proud owner of a lot of beautiful shoes.

I’m also the owner of a heart and brain that transferred those experiences to larger financial investments. Purchases. Ways of living that were expensive. And it was ok because I worked hard to earn a lot. So I could “love” myself and everyone in my life a lot. So I could make them feel special in the exact same way I’d been made to feel special.

But a divorce and two big family deaths later and those choices can catch up with you. And if you are a good ACoA, you learned to never look at the truth at home and so I didn’t look at my mounting debt. Sure it kept me up at night, but I shoved it down. For a long time. So long it involved the IRS. Payment plans. Credit scores gone awry.

I’ve got the financial bit mostly sorted, but I’ve never addressed the behavior. The way I learned to love myself with spending. It’s so hard to look at. I’m embarrassed. Ashamed.

But this childhood wound has become a cage. I need to finally look at this and all I’m afraid it says about me. I need to learn new ways to love myself. It begins today.

I’ve been hiding truths.
But it’s time to come clean.

My mother and grandmother used to take me shopping. Not often, but when we did, it was really special. I got to spend time with them — just me and them. Trying on dresses and cute jackets and beautiful shoes.

We didn’t have a lot of money and my mother rarely bought things for herself. But they seemed to love giving me this kind of attention. And as the girl living in the home with the alcoholic parents who screamed and fought and threw things through windows, it felt so good to be out in public, pretending we were normal, buying pretty things and having lunch.

A seemingly simple thing on the surface. I loved those shopping dates. But I had no idea how they imprinted my brain with the idea that love = cute dresses. Love = beautiful shoes. Love = shopping. Love = spending money.

As you might imagine, I am the proud owner of a lot of beautiful shoes.

I’m also the owner of a heart and brain that transferred those experiences to larger financial investments. Purchases. Ways of living that were expensive. And it was ok because I worked hard to earn a lot. So I could “love” myself and everyone in my life a lot. So I could make them feel special in the exact same way I’d been made to feel special.

But a divorce and two big family deaths later and those choices can catch up with you. And if you are a good ACoA, you learned to never look at the truth at home and so I didn’t look at my mounting debt. Sure it kept me up at night, but I shoved it down. For a long time. So long it involved the IRS. Payment plans. Credit scores gone awry.

I’ve got the financial bit mostly sorted, but I’ve never addressed the behavior. The way I learned to love myself with spending. It’s so hard to look at. I’m embarrassed. Ashamed.

But this childhood wound has become a cage. I need to finally look at this and all I’m afraid it says about me. I need to learn new ways to love myself. It begins today.

Saving Your Fancy Skincare for Fancy Face Days

I caught myself doing a weird thing last night while washing my face.

Backstory: I’ve started taking much better care of my skin. That’s how it goes when you start taking care of your inside. You start to prioritize all kinds of care. Realizing you are worth it. And so I’ve been learning all about the multi-step Korean beauty process of double cleansing, toner, essence, serum, oil. Morning and night.

It has become a wonderful ritual for myself. A time to look myself in the mirror, see myself, honor myself, lovingly take care of me. And my skin has never looked better. I feel amazing.

I’ve even gotten so into it that I recently bought several new items to try – sometimes swapping them for the original line of skincare I bought. Just to see if they did more for my skin. Had any extra, cool benefits.

When I travel, I always take the same kit with me as I’ve noticed the original line of skincare works best on my skin. I look amazing when I use all those products in the right order.

I recently got back from a trip. Haven’t unpacked my “best” skincare yet and so have been using the backup stuff. And noticing that my skin doesn’t look as amazing as it does when I use the best stuff.

And this is what popped into my head last night: “I’ll just keep using this backup stuff and save to best skincare for special occasions. I don’t need to look great all the time. No need to waste it.”

THIS IS A THING I SAID TO MYSELF.

It’s ok to have my FACE be for special occasions? Uh uh. No. Not even a little bit ok.

I share this with you because that’s how #ACoA healing works. We start taking care of ourselves, doing what feels good. And even in the taking care, those awful judgy voices sneak in. It’s my drunk mom calling me fat, or unworthy of an award I just got at school. It’s her telling me I should put more blush on before I leave the house because I look like a ghost. These comments still live in my body and creep in unexpectedly.

GOOD NEWS: I caught myself. Reminded myself of what’s true. And you can too.

And of course: I used the good skincare this morning! Because I am ever so worthy.

Chat With Yourself

I’ve been doing this exercise lately: instead of reacting in the moment (thank you daily meditation practice for giving me more seconds between stimulus and response), I chat with myself. I sit myself down and listen, just as I would with a friend. What am I feeling? Where is this coming from? What old patterns might be at play here? Am I taking on other people’s ish to people-please and get love or is this really my ish to sort?

It doesn’t take a long time. A minute or two. And I’m human so still working on expanding the space between stimulus and response. I don’t always show up in intense, triggered moments as I’d like. I’m maybe 50/50 at this point. But for this ACoA, it has been extremely helpful to pause and check in. Pause and check in. Pause and check in. You can formulate a much healthier response from that place. A response that honors what you want and what you need.

We navigated so much growing up that some responses are still automatic. Still just a millimeter below the surface waiting to be triggered. It’s ok. A practice of pausing and checking in will give you a little more room to choose an intentional response. Plus: it’s kind of fun to sit yourself down and have a chat. That’s the kind of self care we could all use in spades.