This morning I slept in. This morning I slept in so hard I missed a couple phone calls from my traveling partner. I woke hours later than usual, although I had gone to bed at a fairly normal adult hour sometime shortly after 10 pm, even taking that into account, I slept in far later than usual and managed a bit more than 9 hours of sleep. I woke with a stuffy head, a bit dizzy, and too groggy for the speed and dexterity I seemed to expect to have. I slowed myself down, answered the phone and enjoyed the sound of my traveling partner’s voice first thing in the morning – a lovely treat –  and afterward turned on the stereo, and eased my stiffness with some yoga.

Coffee time! Oh…hey…who  left dishes in the sink over night? Oh. Right. Me. I feel real irritation on the edge of anger surge through me, requiring a moment to breathe, and slow things down again.

Damn it.

Damn it.

I have some baggage around dirty dishes, associated with domestic violence at a point in life when my injury was relatively recent. Dirty dishes in the sink resurrect all sorts of chaos and damage for me, beginning with irritation and resentment, and moving through a spectrum of negative emotions. There was an emotional moment, hands clenching the edge of the sink, body trembling – I just want to make my coffee, now, but the dishes commanded my full attention; the dishwasher is full of clean dishes, and having forgotten to unload it right after work, and also putting off the dishes after dinner was made – promising myself to handle it ‘soon’ which became ‘after __’, which then became ‘before bed’, then didn’t happen at all. I’m irked at myself. I dislike disorder on a pretty powerful level – the disorder in my kitchen screams at me about the potential for disorder in the rest of my experience, and in my thinking.

I take a deep breath. I give myself a moment to recognize that nothing in the sink is actually an impediment to making coffee and enjoying it. Hell – it’s not even a lot of dishes, and they were rinsed before being placed in the sink. I am over-reacting. Still, my own perspective on the dishes is that taking care of me means an orderly tidy clean kitchen – for me. Because I said. (No other reason is really necessary – although honestly, a dirty kitchen is a health hazard.) I treated myself poorly by not making a point of taking care of the dishes last night. It’s necessary to recognize and accept both the circumstances and my feelings in order to take better care of me going forward – and to make amends and let it go. Yes, of course making amends is relevant even when I disappoint myself. I will face lingering irritation every time I look in the kitchen – and it may even stall my enjoyment of other parts of my day – until I make things right with me. It’s not about domestic servitude, obligation, the expectations of others, or rules – I really dislike dishes being left in the sink, and most particularly overnight. Why is not relevant to the moment.

This is not really even about dishes, specifically. I bring it up because it illuminates a particular point about self-care. How so? Well… in shared domestic experience dishes can quickly become major drama – because like a lot of small details, how people treat each other really matters. Being considerate of each others values is a big deal. That’s so obviously true when I think about my relationships with others…but what about my relationship with myself?  This morning I find that it’s also true within my experience of myself. I am annoyed with myself for treating myself poorly. I like waking up to a very tidy kitchen, a clean bathroom, soft vacuumed carpet under my bare feet, and details well-managed for beautiful living, and I know this about me…and rather inconsiderately still let myself down last night. So…now what? I have come far enough to know that continuing to mistreat myself by moving on from something as small as leaving a couple of rinsed dishes in the sink over night to berating myself for having done so is not ‘treating myself well’. Emotional self-abuse can take up a lot of valuable time on pointless bullshit. (I’m still annoyed, though, and I’ll be doing the dishes once my coffee is finished.)

I yearn to treat myself 100% as well as I would treat my most adored lover – and to do so as well as I would strive to do in the first precious weeks of connecting and investing in love. Seriously – why wouldn’t I treat me the very best I know how? That doesn’t mean Affogatos every morning – that would be mistreatment through over-indulgence. It doesn’t mean spending my disposable income on enticing frivolities – that would be mistreatment through failure to manage my resources for long-term comfort and success. It doesn’t mean refusing to spend another dollar on groceries to be frugal, at the expense of good quality nutrition and health – that would be mistreatment through a false sense of economy. (I can hear my traveling partner laughing and saying “well, what does it mean?”, and pointing out that I am phrasing things in the negative.) One thing it definitely does mean is practicing practices that build and maintain the quality of life in which I personally thrive – with a commitment to practical tasks and habits being established that keep a good household running well, however small. It means doing the damned dishes promptly. It means running the vacuum cleaner every day. It means – for me – making the bed in the morning, adjusting the curtains for the lighting I like, and keeping my home tidy at the standard that satisfies and pleases me, unapologetically – and also without treating myself badly by berating myself when I miss the mark. I am human, and this is a human experience. Highs, lows, successes, failures – my results vary.

I am feeling ready to stand out - unapologetically precisely who I am.

I am feeling ready to stand out – unapologetically precisely who I am.

I made my coffee, and I am taking time to enjoy it while I write. It’ll be a lovely day to catch up on a few things, and to take care of me by taking care of home and hearth – mindful service, not indentured servitude, because I can rather than because I must. Gracious delight and investment in self is a lovely approach to taking great care of this wee home I have made, and resentment is not an element of that experience. Like a child ‘playing house’, I have a clear idea of ‘home’ and what it takes to maintain that feeling – and it’s fun to do those things for myself. Even the dishes – although damn I wish I’d done them last night. 🙂