|Spa Lo (photo from their website, spalo-dz.com)|
During our spa chat, I shared with Magda how reluctant I am to do things like hire a housecleaner, join a gym or go to a spa. Even travel (other than trips to family, Congo or church meetings) is something I don’t do unless hubby plans it. An accusatory voice in my head reminds me of all my friends for whom that money would make a big difference. Growing up a pastor's kid, it was ingrained in me to put the community’s needs first---to pay special attention to newcomers and the marginalized---and, of course, to always wait until everyone else has gone through the potluck line before filling your plate.
I reflected on how this approach has led to hunger (metaphorical and literal), disappointment and resentment as I’ve tried to adapt to the Foreign Service life. Magda pointed out that in the high-stress embassy world where most folks are barely holding it together, I need to shift my approach to what we are instructed to do on airplanes: When there is a drop in cabin pressure….put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. Otherwise, you end up gasping for breath and in the chaos no one will help you. That is, if I don't start taking care of me first, I can't be bitter if others don't take care of me either.
So, while I probably won’t be returning to the posh spa anytime soon, I've decided that I am calling long-term dibs on the housecleaner hubby found us, and the next childcare lead I find I’m claiming for my family instead of sharing it with others first. Once my breathing and brain function are back to healthy levels, then we can talk about hosting potlucks at our place again.
*I wish everyone had a friend like Magda. She gets me out of the apartment regularly by pressuring me into things like joining a gym or going out to lunch. She listens non-judgmentally as I fret on and on, whilst she herself is dealing with being a foreigner without the perks of diplomatic status. She always encourages me to take care of myself.