The Muffin Top — Self Absorption
I realized this morning that I have become self-absorbed. When I first got sick a few weeks ago, it was all about having “time for myself” and wanting to rest and recover fully and not being burdened by the expectations of others. Somewhere along the way, that became complete absorption with myself, until my issues, my struggles, and my life just began to build up and spill over the healthy limits normally set for them like a muffin top on my life. I didn’t do it on purpose. In fact I was just trying to follow doctor’s orders and take my recovery seriously.
This has happened before, at other times when I have been sidelined by my MS and its challenges. It begins with some significant life event that, in itself, feels — at least initially — like a sacred experience. Bad health has a certain seriousness to it, and I experience that seriousness as sacredness — a time when I can get quiet and draw near to God. Only I very easily may not. I might just sit around watching a lot of television, feeling overwhelmed, and waiting to get better. In fact that has often been the pattern for me.
Letting it all go
This manifests itself in a complete abandonment of any schedule whatsoever. I stay up too late, eat too much, watch too much TV, sit too much and, in this case, probably spend way too much time online. Muffin top. This naturally spirals into depression at some point. I almost completely neglect the disciplines of my normal life such as time set aside for quietness, meditation, and spiritual reading. I feel like I”m “on vacation” only it’s a really terrible, self-indulgent vacation.
Reigning in the Muffin Top
There are certain things we (you and I) do in life not because we must but because they frame our lives properly and become containers for all the other things. If you wish to avoid a muffin-top life, then no matter how sick you are or what else is going on, there must be a core set of practices you essentially stick with. Below I am going to list what I will do to avoid a muffin-top life.
I am writing for right now while I am still recovering from illness. They will have to change somewhat (bedtimes, waketimes) when I am healthy. Many of them will apply to most people. Are there others you would add for yourself?
- Go to bed every night no later than midnight. Eleven if you have to get up early.
- Get up every morning no later than nine.
- Make your bed every morning.
- Set aside time every morning and every evening for meditation and silent prayer.
- Work out your body in some way every day, no matter how small.
- Exercise your mind every day by doing a little reading, or listening to a conference or seminar.
- Find at least one way to help or serve another person. All but the most severely and acutely ill can do this, and oftentimes a really sick person can still listen and be a friend, or write a thank you note, or find some small way to help others.
- Write in your blog every day, whether you post every day or not.
Taken together, those practices will keep my life within healthy limits. They will keep my priorities focused on my mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional health, and keep me centered fundamentally on others. With all the time that is left (which, even after all these things, will be most of it), I will need to decide how best to care for my own needs and those of my family. As I get back to work, more and more of the time available after doing these things will go towards productive work.
What would your list look like? What must you do to avoid a muffin-top life?