During my recent exile from all that’s familiar, I decided to give myself permission to do some things just for myself. Even if that permission dragged its feet for lack of conviction. I wanted to do an experiment of sorts, see what it would be like to be good to myself. Could I? Could I do something just because I wanted to, even if it served no other purpose and benefited no one but myself?
If I seem stuck on this whole pleasure anorexia issue it’s because I’ve become so overwhelmingly aware of how it’s affected my life. Is there something pitiful, perhaps, in not being able to take a good long soak in the tub? I’m sure there are women all around the world who do so on a regular basis, without giving it a second thought. Even with hubby and kids pounding on the door, they manage to shut everything out and do this one thing they need to do for themselves. Perhaps if they can sink into a bubble bath and shut out the world for a period of time, they will be more rested and relaxed, more willing to deal with the demanding hubby and kids. But that’s not their main motivation. They aren’t taking that long relaxing soak for others, they’re doing it for themselves. For the pure pleasure of doing so.
So, I took a bubble bath knowing I could stay in the water until my entire body puckered up like a prune. No one would be pounding on the door. No one uses this bathroom but me. So there I lay hidden beneath all those glorious bubbles, wondering how long I needed to stay in my bath for this to qualify as having done something for myself. The longer I lay there, humming to distract myself from my growing apprehension, the more antsy I became. There was no reason to shorten my bath time, nowhere I had to be at a certain time. I simply couldn’t stand lying there with the minutes ticking away while I did nothing. Why should doing nothing fill me with such high anxiety? What is there about simply being without any demands on my time, energies, emotions, etc. that has such a stronghold on me?
And now, writing this, I realize another component to this whole bath fiasco. I’ve always rushed in the bathroom, and no wonder. That’s where so many molestations took place. So maybe this isn’t so much about denying myself the pleasure of a good long soak in the tub as it is a sexual abuse issue. Okay, I think that makes me feel better. But it doesn’t help much with my inability to enjoy other pleasures.
I nearly bought a new computer a few days ago. I longed to. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t. For once, I can afford to do so. There’s no one to answer to, no angry parent or hubby to scold or force me to return it. As my son and daughter in-law urged me to “do something for yourself for a change” I wanted to weep. The thought of spending all that money on myself nearly reduced me to a blubbering, hysterical child. Yes, I know that’s an extreme reaction—I know, I know. But why? That’s what haunts me. Why would a grown woman feel like weeping at the thought of spending money on herself?
In a recent comment on this blog, Austin told me that it’s okay to relax now. I’ve never heard her voice, but I could imagine its soft tones as she whispered, It’s okay, Beauty. You can relax now. There, there, it’s okay, it’s okay . . . One of my parts perked up at those words. I don’t know who, but Austin definitely has someone’s attention. Someone is very weary, indeed, of all this denial of pleasure that’s been going on. Someone wants to have fun, someone is tired of the long faces and stoic stiff upper lip and all the crud that goes along with it. Someone who, I hope, will not give me rest until I come to some kind of resolution about this whole issue. It’s a process, I know, it won’t happen overnight. Still, the realization that I’ve at least one of my parts eager to see some major changes gives me a sense of confidence. As the song says, every day is a winding road. I don’t know where this road is leading to, but I’m always open to new challenges, new insights about myself.
(Oh the elegance of simple pleasures!)