Self-Care or Selfish?

On May 1 I started an internship, which, like school itself, is not in the city in which I live and entails commuting over an hour each way. Right now I’m killing myself taking a course on Monday and Wednesdays 1:00-4:00, the internship course component on Monday nights 5:30-8:30, and I work at the internship itself Tuesday/Thursday/Friday. When the Monday/Wednesday course ends on June 10, I will have Wednesdays free, but will add Monday afternoon 1:00-4:00 to my internship hours, and THEN drive an hour to the internship class at 5:30. All told, I am putting over 1,200 km/week on my car, spending about $150/week in gas, and am perpetually exhausted.

There is a law in Canada that states flowers must be planted during the Victoria Day long weekend.

There is a law in Canada that states flowers must be planted during the Victoria Day long weekend.

Last week I had a slight respite from this routine for the Victoria Day long weekend. The university senate, in its infinite academic wisdom, decreed the make-up class for that Monday was to be held on a Saturday. My profs are a lot smarter than the Senate. In lieu of a Saturday class, our internship prof asked us to complete a “self-care” questionnaire and start to formulate a self-care goal for the term.

I stink at self-care. I don’t exercise or eat right, seldom go out with friends, (I hang out on facebook too much, though), I don’t go for mani-pedis, almost never buy new clothes, or treat myself to sushi. I don’t have time and I don’t have money. When I take time for “me,” it means some responsibility gets neglected. The dishes don’t get done, the laundry doesn’t get folded, I don’t read the textbook for class. There will be time for self-care in August. (So I say. But there won’t.)

And if I’m not taking care of myself, guess who is getting even less care. C’mon, guess. Hint: it’s not the two-legged kids, though they also get short shrift these days.

See how he bulges on the sides?

See how he bulges on the sides?

Our Best Friend has become fat. He was fat about three years ago, I switched his food, and he lost weight. Now he’s fat again. I actually procrastinated his vet visit because I know Dr. B. is going to tear a strip off my hide when she sees him.

He’s fat because he never gets exercise. I get up at 6:30 a.m. I leave the house at 7:20. I get home again at 6:00 p.m.– or later. (Mondays I don’t come home at all– I sleep at my cousin’s after school.) I make dinner. I do other people’s homework. I drop dead. My dog is a bundle of nerves and fat cells. It seriously borders on dog abuse.

Last Friday night I lay in bed, too spent to move, and asked the Middle Child to take him out. She refused; she was “studying.” The Middle Child, who a scant year ago was begging for a puppy, now wants nothing to do with the dog. Too much responsibility. Something in me blew. I said, “I have to get rid of the dog.”

Nobody panic; I didn’t throw him out the front door and tell him to go play in traffic. He’s still here, barking too much and stealing cookies off the bed when my back is turned. But when a 65-pound GSD mix gets fat, the owner’s to blame. Do I have a right to own him if I’m going to neglect him?

Still king of the castle.

Still king of the castle.

In my head, it became my self-care goal: divest myself of one responsibility and all the attendant guilt. Better for me, better for him. I would have five more minutes every morning, and I would stop berating myself for not walking him or myself. I wouldn’t look at his expanded midriff and see my own reflected therein. He could go to someone who would walk him and train him and maybe even have land or a yard to chase around in.

But me being me, I can’t let a decision be. Is it self-care, and better for him, to rehome him… or is it just me cracking under the strain? Saying, “It’s enough, I can’t meet anyone’s needs here, can someone please let me off the hook?” Is it self-care– or selfish?

A true self-care goal would leave me feeling healthier and better. Giving away the dog will not improve my health and well-being. I might lose some guilt, but there’s no gain. True self-care would be rising to the challenge, and saying, “We both need exercise. To hell with exhaustion– let’s go out for 30 minutes.” But I haven’t been able to do that up to now, and I don’t imagine anything will change in the next ten weeks.

So tell me: Is he better off in a different home? Is it selfish to keep him? Is it selfish to give him away? And if anyone has a good self-goal, one that will not add to my responsibilities, something that won’t be another thing I’ll feel guilty about not doing, I’m all ears.


About one person's view

I'm the mother of three girls, three cats, and a dog. All need constant attention, but only the dog likes to go for long walks!
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5 Responses to Self-Care or Selfish?

  1. Kristine says:

    I think only you can answer these questions and I think you know the answer to them already, deep down, otherwise you wouldn’t be asking them. You have to do what is good for you, ultimately, and what is good for your family. It’s not an easy decision to make, unfortunately, and my heart goes out to you! I am so sorry you are struggling with all this right now and wish things were easier. 😦 But I trust you will do the right thing for yourself and for all members of your family, whatever that may be.

    Best wishes! I will be thinking of you.

  2. I’m sorry you are having such a difficult time. Personally I have a hard time saying no to people and have found myself stretched too thin. I’ve been researching a lot of nurturing things. I’ve tried to meditate but I can’t in the traditional fashion. What I found out is there are different methods of meditating. I just found out that there is something called a ‘walking meditation’ which in retrospect is what I do when I walk my dogs. I use the dogs as an excuse, “Oh they need to be walked” but it is as much for myself (maybe more) than it is for them. It’s a chance for my mind to be free of all the other things that I have to do and to just be who I am with beings who don’t judge me and don’t place anymore demands on me then spending a half hour in the woods.

  3. I’m late. But I second Kristine’s confidence in you. You will ultimately do what is best for everyone.

    I just wish I could give you what you most need. About a week of sleep.

  4. You know I’ve had to make difficult decisions when it comes to my pups – I have no doubt that you will make any decision after thoughtful consideration, and that whatever you decide will be what’s best for you and the pup. Sending hugs your way.

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