a keepsake

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Dolores Hunsky ◄

It feels like the darkness is closing in on me as my beloved sleeps peacefully beside me. The nights are longer than they used to be and insomnia is not just an occasional visitor anymore. The tossing and turning continues until the first rays of the morning sun start creeping through the window like an uninvited guest, announcing the arrival of a new day – one I don’t seem to be ready for.

Getting up has become a chore rather than a habit and it seems everyone has noticed the increase in my distractibility and impatience. The dark circles under my eyes fail to conceal the fatigue and general lack of interest in things I used to enjoy the most. From once a cheerful and always giggling person, to a walking dead that cannot seem to find any excitement.

“Good morning!” an enthusiastic echo fills the kitchen, where my better half is almost done with breakfast.

“Mornin“ is the best reply I can mutter.

The efforts to cheer me up stopped a while ago. What started as a change in self-esteem and occasional crankiness, evolved into a serious dissatisfaction with our relationship. Regardless of several attempts to salvage what was left of me, apathy and detachment have taken over and are now holding me hostage. There is nothing anyone can do, if I don’t take things into my own hands.

It has been two years now since I stopped with my regular exercises. I used to enjoy them so much. Right after, always around 6 pm, I would make a healthy meal that we both could enjoy; always served with a glass of wine or some other alcoholic beverage. It was our little ritual – a time in the day that we reserved for each other’s company, whether it be to talk, read or simply do our own things, while enjoying each other’s presence.

Wednesday evenings with friends were the next sacrifice. Suddenly, I couldn’t take time for my routine, much less for other people, despite them almost begging me to join. The workload either increased or was taking a bigger toll on me and the outside world became a burden that I could barely carry. It seems that nobody understood my struggle – nobody cared. Although strangely, were I to think about it, everyone was making quite an effort to listen. But how could they understand?

Soon, the emotional damage was starting to show, even though I tried to hide it. The things I considered trivial were proving to be essential. It took me months to realize their importance and even when I admitted to missing them, there were no means of getting them back. I wanted to exercise, but couldn’t. I wanted to accept a coffee invitation, yet my anxiety would not allow it. I craved intimacy once shared with my partner; still, my essence would not cooperate.

After a long while, the realization came: sometimes we must set ourselves as a priority. It is not selfish, it is not rude – it is necessary. Whether a weekly piece of cake, daily exercise, hanging out with friends, or playing an instrument; one has to adhere to their own little rituals.

Sometimes, self-care also comes in a form of saying no; either at work or at home. Other times, one might be in too deep to solve their problems on their own, which is why seeking help – be it professional or just from your friends – is a way to show yourself some love.

Go and have coffee with friends. Take a break and listen to the song that is stuck in your head. Set yourself realistic goals that you can manage, while still taking care of your mental and physical health. Make yourself the soup you used to love as a child. Thank your friends for being supportive or gently remind them of their toxic traits. Take your significant other out for a date. Buy yourself the scoop of ice cream you longed for even before you started reading this.

Show yourself some love.