Creating new routines


When I got to work on yet another Monday morning and opened my bag to find the deconstructed tissue box that I had meant to throw in the recycling bin at home, I was not annoyed that I kept seeing the tissue box. I was delighted that I had continued to take my bag home and leave it unopened until I got to work the next day. I haven’t gotten on my laptop at home in weeks.

I turned in my book manuscript and I’m awaiting feedback from my publisher. I am sure there will be revisions, but until I hear back, I am enjoying getting to go home at night and relax. I’m unpacking and putting things up on the walls. I’m making my new home feel like home. I’m reading books (yes, books, printed books!) and taking bubble baths and spending time with people I care about. I’m thinking, “Hey, I haven’t heard from my brother in a while, I’m going to send him a text and schedule a phone call.”

I am working on designing a life and schedule that allows me to do my writing on the weekends, so I don’t need to go home from a full day of my face in a screen and continue having my face in a screen until bedtime. The benefits of this schedule shift are innumerable.

I am better rested.

I am rising earlier and exercising in the morning, which is when I like to exercise.

I am relaxing in the evenings so that I don’t feel like my life is rushing from one thing to the next.

I am, as they say, filling my own cup.

People do well with routine. Routines and habits can be very healthful…or not so much. Now that my deadlines are over (mostly), I’m leaning into creating routines and habits that decrease stress. I used to layer commitments over obligations over responsibilities and I’d end up frazzled, tired, and absolutely depleted, promising myself that this would be the last weekend for a while that I had to do so much. Now, I am working on saying no, even to things that I know would be fun or feel good in the moment. I have to think about how I’ll feel afterward, which is not something I used to think about.

As it turns out, I am a pretty social person (something my ex had trained out of me). When my sister came to visit just a couple of months after I moved out, she met the new people in my life and expressed to me how excited and impressed she was that I had met people and made new friends. She had thought I hated socializing, didn’t like people, and enjoyed my solitude. Make no mistake, I do enjoy my solitude, but I also love to be around people. This is something I didn’t even realize about myself. I am a hardcore introvert who needs to go home and build a cocoon after social events, but I enjoy myself immensely when I’m in the midst of good times with friends.

Rebuilding after leaving abuse is weird. The things you thought you knew about yourself are often not true at all. After a traumatic childhood and a mentally abusive seven year relationship, I am meeting myself for the very first time. And I like myself. I really like myself. I like the version of me that considers herself and her needs for rest. I like the version of me that sees the smile and the brightness before worrying about the thighs and tummy. I like the version of me who no longer chases approval to feel valuable.

So, yeah, I’m really happy about that un-recycled tissue box that means I go home at night and enjoy my life and my free time. Really, really happy.

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