I know I am not alone, but only because in my other job I am a therapist.
I have more than one “set” of clothes. You know, 3 size sets. You might name them differently. If you are practical, you might name them by size “12’s, 14’s, 16’s.” If you are directly self-critical, you might name them as “skinny,” “acceptable,” and “fat.” Or, if you are like me and try to have a sense of humor about your mental twists, they might be labeled as “trying to be body positive,” “on a diet again,” and “hot mama clothes.”
This is not a post about clinical reasons to change that verbiage.
It is a post about ways to “change the things you can” while sandwiched between the needs of raising children (or young adults) and caring for the needs of aging relatives. This is a season of life that can span many years and can limit your choices in a lot of ways. During my own sandwiched years, I had an epiphany in my own closet.
I have had my own “struggles” with weight itself and the cognitive framework behind it. They are connected but separate. On the epiphany day, I was standing in my closet and the recent history was this: I had lost a significant amount a weight, stalled for a LONG time (over a year) while still compliant with the diet, and eventually gained a lot of the weight back. I was angry and discouraged at my body and also my life.
I began to grab for my clothes for the day when I realized that I rarely, if ever, wore the clothes I liked the best. Even though they fit, even though they were the correct size for the body I was in. I realized that I was punishing myself. I was hoarding my “good clothes” because I wasn’t the size I “should” be. I wasn’t allowing myself the pleasure of wearing the clothes that I enjoyed, looked the best in, and felt great in because I didn’t want to reward myself by putting them on a body that didn’t “deserve them.”
I made a promise to myself in that moment I would do 4 things:
- I would make my daily clothes choices based on what felt and looked best, most fun, pretty, festive, or enjoyable.
- I would only buy items that I loved.
- I would cull my closet continually of clothes that didn’t energize and enliven me.
- I would do #1-3 no matter what size body I lived in.
On the surface, this seems to have nothing to do with being a woman of the Sandwich Generation and the stress and the energy drain that goes with it. But, these moments, these daily choices have *everything* to do with helping women of the Sandwich Generation. There is so much out of our control. There is so much complicated societal, cultural, and practical pressure on us. We are called on, demanded of, and pulled on from many directions. Our mental load is constant and heavy. In order to respond to and carry that burden in the most resilient and healthy way possible, we need to selectively and healthfully find ways to stop the depleting energy and find ways to energize.
What you put ON your body is one of those ways. I am writing this on “National OOTD Day” which stands for “Outfit of the Day.” Stassi Schroeder created the day to, “celebrate self-love and personal style every year on June 30th, give yourself those extra few minutes in the morning to dress with confidence in mind.”
I encourage you to make a commitment today. Not because you “should” but because these moments are real self-care. They are beyond mani/pedis and bubble baths. I encourage you to consider your own version of my #1-4 list and dress your body and attitude in something fabulous each.and.every day. You deserve it.