July TOTALLY got away from me, not JUST because it’s been so hot that I’d like to go to sleep in a refrigerator and not wake up until September or October, but that’s definitely been a contributing factor.
I also had a birthday, which led to a lot of time thinking about how much my life has changed over the past year. I changed jobs (more accurately, quit the job that was killing my soul and hindering my recovery with no backup plan and then the universe dropped the most perfect work arrangement that EVER existed into my lap), I started working on pre-requisites for a master’s degree program and discovered a surprising love for chemistry (probably mostly due to the abundance of puns), I started an EDA meeting that has brought together 8-10 participants each week in just a few months, I stepped down from weekly, emotionally volatile and exhausting therapy sessions to light hearted check-ins every 4-6 weeks, and I’ve been very consistently eating breakfast and dinner every day for a while (still work to do on this, but much further than I ever thought I would get).
In all of this, one of the biggest themes/shifts has been self love. When I started on my recovery journey, I couldn’t even say “I love myself” out loud, because it felt like such a heinous lie. Today I can say it AND mean it! This change didn’t happen overnight, or automatically. I cultivated it. Like a garden. I planted a seed and watered and tended and weeded and watched it grow.
Given that I used to think it was completely impossible for me to love myself, just based on how much I hated myself, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the actions I took to develop and grow this love for myself. One of those things has been buying myself flowers. This might not be as big of a deal for you, but here’s some background on why I think it was for me.
I used to think cut flowers were the biggest waste of money! It was a big scarcity issue for me. In fact, for the first 9 years that my husband and I were married, I never allowed him to buy cut flowers for me. After all, they are basically already dead when you buy them, they don’t serve any particular purpose and the money might as well go straight to the trash, where the flowers will end up eventually.
Instead, whenever he wanted to surprise me with an anniversary gift, or a “just because I love you” gift, he would bring sweets, which seemed like a perfect solution to me, since I was going to spend THAT money on my next binge anyway. And of course this just reinforced my belief that food is love, which was one of the core beliefs that kept me trapped in my eating disorder for so long.
Then I went to treatment for my eating disorder and there was a staff member that brought in fresh flowers almost every Monday. I loved seeing the new flowers every week. It became something I looked forward to, was grateful for, and on the rare occasions that a week was missed, I really noticed their absence. The fact that somebody was going to the trouble of buying and arranging flowers, to bring beauty and (ironically) life into our living space made me feel cared for, valued, and loved.
What I realized is that I didn’t just think flowers were a waste of money, because they are expensive (actually not even true) and don’t last… but that I didn’t think I deserved them. Meanwhile, this person who barely even knew me, valued me so much that she bought flowers. Every week.
It took me a long time to value myself enough to spend money on flowers simply because they are pretty and I enjoy looking at them. But one week last year, we had a coupon for flowers from the grocery store and I decided I was going to buy myself this treat. I was going to set them on the dining room table, where I sit down to eat between two and six times a day and each time I sit down, I am reminded that I value myself so much, that I believe I am so deserving, that I can have flowers on my table, just because they bring me joy. And each time I see them and that thought fires down this new neuropathway I created, I believe it a little bit more.
I made a decision that this was a worthy budget entry, but I do know personally, and for others on a budget, it’s not always that simple. As you may recall from a few paragraphs ago, I changed jobs last year. I only make about a third of what I used to, so I say this not to justify the dollar amount I spend on myself, but to tell you that it doesn’t have to be a bank breaker. My grocery store sells flowers that are already pretty reasonable, but when those flowers get close to the “sell by” date, they are discounted to half price. I spend somewhere between $3 and $7.50 at a time and, depending on the type of flower, they last 2-3 weeks.
When I think about the amount of money I used to spend on a single binge, to fill this hole where self love should have been, I know that a fragrant, colorful reminder of that love and value at my dining room table is the absolute BEST way I can be spending those $120ish a year.
Here are a few of my favorites.