I was with a friend yesterday who evacuated her home during the Wine Country fires just like we did. She said, “Just the other day I started to feel a little better. With all the uncertainty and being uprooted, I’ve felt so exhausted!” I encouraged her to be easy on herself. Healing takes time.
We walked across the Sonoma Plaza and a corridor of trees was wrapped in good wishes. Children’s drawings on hearts relayed stories of appreciation and thankfulness.
Sometimes stressful situations bring back memories of other times when one felt similar feelings. Ever notice that? If there was a time when I felt upheaval, fear of the unknown, and not knowing how to console myself it was years back when I was going through a divorce. That’s very different from the fires of course but there are enough emotional similarities to have brought it to mind. I remember the exhaustion. One day I could function in the world and the next day I’d take to my bed. It went on like that for weeks.
My husband and I didn’t have the Gwenth Paltrow/Chris Martin conscious uncoupling kind of divorce. It was complicated.
Finding symbols of hope in a lingerie shop
I was told that hammering out the details of our divorce would take about ten weeks of mediation. Ours took a year and a half. That’s a marathon. Somewhere along the line I decided I needed to go shopping – not your run of the mill retail therapy shopping, but shopping for a symbol of hope. With my intuition leading the way I ended up in a lingerie boutique a few blocks from the mediation office. Some people are lingerie people and this would not be a stretch for them. For me, it was a stretch, but as soon as I entered the shop, I knew I was in the right place.
At the first peek inside the door I realized I needed some pretty in my life. I needed reminders of the woman inside of me. I had to be in Warrioress mode to get through that divorce. I was thirty-five.
I trusted that I’d know what I needed to nurture me and I did—a pretty lace teddy in ivory, a color that wasn’t demanding in the least. I tried on the most beautiful bra I’d ever seen, a peach demi-cup lace bra from France. It was slightly uncomfortable but I overlooked that and handed it to the salesperson.
There was a rack against the wall that stocked robes. Most robes were too frilly for me but I found one that was long and made of a semi-sheer wool gauze. It was in an organic shade of ivory with wide ivory satin edging and a matching belt. When the salesperson told me it had been designed by an architect and was one-of-a-kind, I knew this was the one. My final purchase was a pair of golden slippers. Wouldn’t every woman going through divorce need a pair of golden slippers?
Unwrapping my purchases months later
Some months later I moved into my new rental home in a neighboring town. We were still in mediation. One night I pulled out the teddy from the peach tissue paper it had been wrapped in and tried it on. It was so pretty. Sometimes I’d sleep in it just to remember who I was – a sensitive and sensual woman.
The golden slippers sat on a small stack of books on my bedside table. One day I’d click the heels of those slippers and be out of this nightmare, I just knew it.
I rarely wore the robe even though I loved it. It turned out that the delicate, loosely woven wool was itchy. Not wanting to bury it in my closet, I bought a six-foot-long wooden dowel, slid the dowel through the sleeves and hung the robe on the wall behind my bed like a kimono. With the robe’s arms spread wide over my head, I felt protected. I bought a blush pink duvet cover and pillows for my bed. When I could afford it, I bought pink roses to put on my cedar chest.
This room was my sanctuary. No harm could come to me here. After tucking my kids into bed, I could slip under the covers, hear myself think and feel my heart mending, just a little.
Whatever happened to those items? The robe got moth holes in it and I finally let it go. After a while, I didn’t need the symbol of the golden slippers so I donated them. The bra was pretty to look at but eventually, I realized I wasn’t a demi-cup woman any longer. The ivory silk teddy actually got worn. But there was a time when I grew out of it. I must have gotten pretty thin during those long months!
If I look at cost-per-wear, they weren’t bargains because I didn’t wear them much. But when I recall the way they helped me heal, I can’t imagine a better investment.
Finding what nurtures you
I like remembering that story. If you’ll allow me a cliche, I have to say that out of the ashes of that messy divorce came many new beginnings. I loved being a mom, I pursued a career of my dreams, I became an author and I fell in love. I have a beautiful life. Oh, it’s got dings in it like everyone’s life does, but I’m grateful.
With nurturing on my mind, I wish I could say that caring for myself, as well as I did in that inspired moment in the lingerie shop, comes naturally. But I still work at listening to my needs. As a woman, it’s so easy to let other things take over. I hardly have to tell you that, right? But there’s something about being this age that gives me more hope that I can get better and better at it. Have you had that feeling too?
Let me hear from you: Is nurturing yourself a habit? Do you find it challenging? What nurtures you? I’m eager to learn from you, please share!
I wish all of you the opportunity to take time for yourself this week and do something nurturing.