All 2018, I practiced intentional self-care.
It was intentional because I had to force myself to do it. Self-neglect, too much bad food, not enough attention to my hair and skin, and my depression caused weight gain( and I mean, A LOT of it... like jiggling when I walked up the steps weight gain), patchy dry skin, a sad little afro, and low self-esteem. I've written about it on Facebook, but one day I looked in the mirror and was almost shocked at how bad I look. Just raggedy. Unkempt. Unloved. Struggling.
That day, I wrote in my journal that I was gonna get myself together. Looking bad made me feel bad. It made me unproductive. It made me cancel plans, stay in as much as possible, and avoid the mirror and the scale. When you feel a mess, you tend to look one. Why would I put effort into feeling cute when I feel ugly and fat and frumpy? Keeping it 100, even my personal hygiene suffered. I work from home, so I wasn't offensive in public, but... still. I called myself "Pigpen." No cap. I am also kinda worried about aging. I mean, not really. I have good genes. But I need to help them along, you know? And I don't know how easy damage is to reverse once you've passed a certain age. In my 20s, the weight just melted off. There were no laugh lines around my eyes. I had about 73 fewer moles. Shit was different, you know? And I don't want to be doing damage that I can't easily reverse, especially now that I'm closer to 40 than I am to 30.
That day, I wrote in my journal that I was gonna get myself together. I listed a weight loss goal. Not a number goal, but I "I wanna fit that black dress and those red jeans in the closet again" goal. I committed to a facial once a week, a mask on Saturdays, more bubble baths, regular mani/pedis, bi-weekly deep conditioning, more respect and appreciation for my body, and a better diet-- more water, less alcohol, and leafy greens and organic things.
I was hard at first. Self-neglect doesn't happen overnight. It comes as the result of days and weeks and months of self-neglect. It comes after poor practices every now and then grow into poor habits. Self-neglect comes from low self-esteem and no motivation to do better. So I had to be intentional about it. I set alarms in my phone for turmeric masks and clay facials. I set money aside for nails and toes. I forced myself to get up and shower and get dressed every day whether I had anyplace to go or not. The eating better/losing weight part was harder to embrace, but one day, in April, I just decided I was gonna do better, and I did.
And I kept writing in my journal. I kept writing about those red jeans and that black dress and glowing skin and a popping ass halo of glorious natural curls. Every day, I tried to pull it together. Some days, I didn't. But more days than I didn't, I did.
Trying made me feel better. Feeling better made me do better. Made me excited about taking care of myself. Conditioning my hair and taking care of my skin became these dope acts of self-love and adoration. I started looking forward to my mani/pedi as a time when I sipped my favorite coffee and lost myself in a book while My (that's his name) goes to work on Myra feet. (Or watched rachet shit on Netflix. Same difference.) Doing better made me look better.
A glow-up beyond what I expected.
I'm about 8 pounds away from my goal weight. A new goal weight I set once I got into that black dress and those red jeans I wrote about. My curls pop every day. My skin is dry because it's 4 degrees outside, but it's not patchy anymore, so there is that. I feel healthier. I eat less. I don't drink the liquor (almost ever). I do drink a lot of water. I've been upgrading my wardrobe and getting excited about putting on clothes again. And it all happened because I made up my mind to get my shit together... and I did. All last year.
I started 2018 feeling embarrassed and ashamed of the way I look, hiding my misery and my size 14/16ness from the world by staying in the house as much as possible. I ended 2018 with blown-out hair that fell far below my shoulders in red lipstick and size 8 jeans. And better self-esteem. And a healthier self-concept. And a feeling of worth I'd been missing for a couple of years. I made a choice. I decided to be intentional. Which, for me, took a whole lot of effort, but was well worth it in the end.
I said all that to say--
Don't be intimidated by the amount of work and effort and energy a task will require from you. Just make small steps. Small steps in the right direction will give you the motivation and the validation you need to take bigger steps. Bigger steps will yield bigger results. Time passes anyway, you know? Why not pass the time by really deciding you're gonna be intentional about accomplishing something and making it happen? I'm so glad I didn't spend all last year wishing I was different. I just made one small difference at a time until I looked in the mirror and saw something I am proud of.
Don't be intimidated by how bad you let it get, or how much it's gonna cost, or how long or how much work or how much effort it will take to accomplish it. Just decide you're gonna do it... and do it.
Make 2019 that year you're so glad you had when 2020 starts.
I write because a lot of what I have to say is too crass and inappropriate for me to say out loud.