Recently, I squeezed some of my Shea Moisture African Black Soap Soothing Body Wash on a washcloth while I was in the shower, and then rubbed it across my upper arm, as one does when washing one’s arm. It felt like it was scratching me. It’s got oats in it, which act as a gentle exfoliant. It felt like scratching, though. I think my nerves are just done, you know? I think it’s probably a fibromyalgia thing, and now my body is just immensely sensitive to the tiniest stuff. My kid pokes me with his elbow in a way that I wouldn’t even notice in the past, and now his elbow is just the sharpest thing and OW. So my skin was like “No, oats are not gentle, actually, please stop using this.”
So I thought about it. I said to my skin, “Okay skin. You know what skin? We are done with exfoliants.” What are exfoliants for, anyway? I’ve never had a good experience with them, and I’ve been using them since I was in middle or high school. All they do is feel like scratching to a greater or lesser degree. And why would I do that to myself?
For the same reason we do all kinds of things: self-improvement. But you know what?
I’m already pretty great.
I’m letting go, for the length of this pandemic if not longer, of the idea that I need to be improved upon in any way: that I need to acquire some skill I don’t have that will suddenly make me employable, that I need to scratch my skin to make it healthy, that I need to eat cleaner than my doctor suggests or my medical conditions require.
Anyone who has worked with me will tell you that my talk about not being a perfectionist and working up only to my own standards, not perfectionism, is some kind of nonsense and that my standards are too high to be reasonable during a global crisis.
“I’m going to set the bar low,” I said to myself. “All I’m going to do is completely fix my kid’s eating and sleep patterns so they don’t make me crazier than I naturally am, enforce a school-like schedule for him, meditate, do yoga, read a lot about possible next steps in my career, and start embodying my middle-aged-version-of-dark-academia aesthetic more fully. It’s basically doing nothing.”
Kimberly: that is not nothing.
Yesterday, I told W. that I didn’t really do anything with my time during M., just let him watch TV and play games and just kind of play. He said, “You built him a Thor hammer.” (There may have been an intensifying expetive between “a” and “Thor,” and he might have said “Mjolnir” instead of “Thor hammer.” I don’t remember.) And I said, “Oh yeah, I did, didn’t I?”
Apparently turning a box, tape, construction paper, and aluminum foil into a cosplay prop is doing a thing.
I have some cognitive distortions, is what I’m getting at here.
So. I took that metaphorical bar and I put it ON THE FLOOR.
This happens once in a while: I decide to just not be so harsh on myself anymore. Let’s do it together.
In that light, I’m getting rid of all goals that aren’t basic living needs or dissertating and graduating. I said I was doing that already, but I hadn’t really done it. But now, maybe I am? I’m declaring that I am. Hold me to it, will you?
Now I’m going to go lie in a hammock.