Time continues to speed up, building momentum and inertia, which help me get through the days with less effort. My little boat has drifted into a gentle current and a soft breeze presses against my sails, nudging the sadness aside. I’m here with my clean white board, marker in hand, ready for a brainstorming session to get my mind around my new life. I guess my main goal is simple: to become functional again, so I can resume my responsibilities and get back to work. In order to do that, I need to take exceptional care of myself. I need to be wholly healthy: physically, maritally, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I categorize my life and then consider what I need to do to maintain each area.
PHYSICAL HEALTH: Exercise, eat well, plenty of sleep.
The most obvious component of health is the body. What’s left of it after childbirth is discouraging. I do not have the reward of childbirth to distract me or help me. Since I cannot nurse, it will take even longer to get the weight off. They say nine months up, nine months down. I guess that sounds realistic, but I’m not happy about it. And it’s not just the weight. My hips have widened, my butt has fallen, my boobs have deflated, my feet are bigger. I don’t recognize myself at all. Even when I get back to my ideal weight, I will not be in the same configuration as before. I’ve always been petite and somewhat athletic, and I’m having a very hard time with this. I’ve never been one to ask if an outfit makes me look fat. If I feel fat, it does not matter what anybody else says.
So I drag myself to the gym. That’s me crying on the stair master, like I’m trying to climb to Heaven without making progress. I still think about Trinity all the time. I wear out not only my body, but also my frustrations. Adding sweat to my tears increases my cleansing I suppose, but I have serious doubts about getting all of my umph back. This seems insurmountable. But I won’t give up. I know this is good for me, and I do feel a little bit better.
Eating well will take some effort. I still don’t feel like cooking and making a salad sounds impossible.
Regarding sleep and rest, I have a new appreciation for the Sabbath. God knew what He was doing when He told us to rest one day each week. We really do need that that time to recharge. I still need a lot more than that right now though.
MARITAL HEALTH: Communicate, sex, date.
Addressing my physical health carries over into my marriage. It’s time to attempt to look nice again, not just for myself, but also my husband. It is one way of expressing love, and he appreciates the effort. I should make sure I don’t take him for granted.
Sex is undeniably different after childbirth in many ways. He’s just as frightened as I am by the changes, probably more so. We just have to keep communicating openly about every little thing. We should prioritize our relationship, and make sure we stay connected by going on regular dates and making a point to spend time together. We are in a new phase now, of life and marriage. We are close to that seven year mark, and we want to avoid the itch. So we have to be deliberate about finding some new ways to have fun. We used to swing dance, rock climb, mountain bike, you name it. All I think I can handle now is a movie or game of Scrabble or Checkers. But we are in this together, so I know we’ll be okay.
I think what I’m realizing as I re-prioritize my entire life is that I want and need to live more purposefully. I used to just do what was on my calendar, going from one thing to the next without much thought. But now I will be much more selective about what goes on my calendar. The buzz phrases, “intentional living” and “living on purpose” make much sense. I have to intentionally ration my pitiful amount of energy now, but I hope I am able to remember this when life reaches full speed again. Be deliberate about everything.
EMOTIONAL/MENTAL HEALTH: Support groups, counseling.
We did our homework and went to a support group and to counseling, one time each. For whatever reason, we just didn’t get much from it. We seem to get all the support we need from each other and our friends. I think again about what I read about facing it all head on. Open communication in a safe environment about your thoughts and feelings is key.
SPIRITUAL HEALTH: Church, women’s group, continue my trek through the Bible.
I read or heard somewhere years ago that if we spent as much time taking care of our spirits as we do our bodies, that the world would be a much different place. It's an interesting thought. We spend hours each day showering, primping, eating, exercising, sleeping, etc. But how much time do we spend grooming, feeding, and strengthening our spirits? I think I will have to spend some extra time on my inner self, because umph comes from within. It doesn't matter if your body is in perfect condition if your engine is broken.
One place to strengthen the inner self is church, and there is a reason why it is called a sanctuary. Even though our church meets in a café, it is still a sanctuary. I am filled with peace. I get lots of hugs. I cry freely. How liberating it is to not even try to hold it in. Tears are strong like moving water. Fighting them is so tiring. Going wherever they take me is easier, and I’m learning that after the rapids, I’m always deposited in a tranquil spot.
Music is an almost instant trigger for my tears, and as we sing a song called “I Surrender” by Lincoln Brewster, I raise my hands and my voice, “And I surrender all to You, all to You.” My eyes are closed, but that doesn’t slow the tears at all. I realize with dread that I haven’t surrendered everything. I haven’t fully surrendered Trinity, and it crushes what's left of my heart, but I say to Him, “Okay, You can have her.” Of course He already has her, but I opened my hands and my heart to let her go. It didn’t free her, it freed me. It was like I let go in my tug of war, and sat down weeping, not in defeat, but in exhausted relief. She couldn’t be in better hands. I didn’t even know that I was struggling in this way, and again I am mystified, but keenly aware of how the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual are intimately connected. This moment between me and God and Trinity will definitely leave a mark.