January and February were dark months. I’m not just talking about the weather but my state of mind. The Coronavirus blues – or burnout, whatever you want to call it – had hit me full force.
One evening the blues got the best of me. I felt miserable, cried, bathed in self-pity. The summer, the warmth, and everything bright and sunny in life seemed out of reach. I had already thought of measures to get myself out of this emotional slump. But right now, in this very moment, those things didn’t comfort me at all.
That’s when it hit me: I could ask my partner for some advice.
I appreciate the fact that he doesn’t overwhelm me with unsolicited solutions. Instead, he starts by simply being there for me and listening to me. That’s how it was that evening, too. We both sat on the bed, held hands; I sniffled a few times and told him why I felt so lousy about everything right now. Then the idea mentioned above came to me – I looked up and asked him what I could do to feel better. (How strange! I had been so busy with feeling low that I had not thought of the most obvious thing: Asking my partner for help!)
He thought about it for a moment, then got up and went into the other room.
This was getting interesting!!! My spirits had already lifted slightly; curiosity just had the upper hand. What would he return with? A deck of cards? Chocolate? Or one of our cuddly cats?
I was entirely off the mark.
He came back with… a BOOK! My partner put Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion: Stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind in my lap and recommended that I start reading it … like, right away.
Self-compassion – the term alone struck me as magical, as surrounded by a sunny, golden aura. I instinctively felt that this book was the advice I needed (and could not give myself).
So, I got myself comfortable on the bed, opened the book, and began to read … and I read … and read some more … with every page, my heart grew lighter, and my self-compassion increased. I came to like myself – and my (ugly) feelings – again more. In short, I was able to deal with the sad parts of me more lovingly.
Looking back, my partner provided me with the crucial clue I needed for getting my self-care back on track. Oh, how good it was that I asked him for help.
Do you ask your partner for advice? Is the advice surprising, like things you wouldn’t have thought of yourself? Or do you ask for help in a different way? I’m curious to know about your ways of doing this. Feel free to write in the comments…