I believe that there are four major kinds of fulfillment that every person needs: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Everyone seeks them from different sources and needs them in different amounts, but they're all equally important. For me, good food, sleeping in on weekends, hugs, taking walks, and the perks of being married (namely, getting to hold my loved one while we're watching TV; I'm not sure what you're thinking of) are how I usually get my physical fix. I get emotional satisfaction from doing a good job of something, helping others, singing, writing, and immersing myself in escapist entertainment. Intellectually, I need to pick things apart and analyze them, apply my creative problem-solving skills, and discuss topics of substance with the people around me. On a spiritual level, I am energized by affirmations that my life is important and is making a difference in the world; I am refreshed by devotionals, Bible studies, and being part of a community that shares my religious faith; and I need the perspectives of people who don't share my beliefs so that I'm better equipped to differentiate truth from Truth. Over the last few years, my priorities have gotten misaligned, and it's only recently that I've realized how neglectful I've been of myself.
This morning, I looked in the mirror and saw that same ghost. I wasn't expecting to see him again so soon; the last couple months have been an exercise in self-care, and I've made it a point to follow a curfew befitting a working adult. But I am not the only factor in my own well-being. I worked a 13-hour day last Thursday, with my only break being 20 minutes to grab a burrito for dinner. On Friday, I worked past midnight. I've had a string of appointments and long car trips (made longer by terrible traffic). Every time I turn on my computer, I see news about another avoidable tragedy, and more evidence that it's unhealthy for this country's election cycle to last so long. Physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually, life circumstances have been running me ragged. I've spent the last several days devoting my precious little free time to a regimen of aggressive relaxation, and that's the only reason I haven't cracked yet. That's caregiving 101, right? You can't take care of others unless you take care of yourself.
Through all of this, I've realized that I've been working too hard to take care of myself. There will always be things beyond my control that impact how I feel, but I've put myself in a situation where the negative surprises routinely outweigh the positive. If I really want to take care of myself, and banish that ghost for good, I need to change my circumstances, not keep fighting against them. I need to surround myself with the people and things that build me up, not just seek them out after being beaten down. It's time to make some changes.