“Safe Word” may seem like an odd title for a post that has nothing to do with S&M… but stay with me…
As I rapidly approach my 32nd birthday, I can safely say that of all the things I’ve learned how to do, I do NOT know how to relax (or wink). And the older I get, more responsibilities I take on and certainly the more children I have, the harder it gets to relax. It’s as if I am driven to finish every item on my to-do list, quench the thirst of every child, fulfill everyone’s needs and fold every last load of laundry before the heat from the dryer dissipates – driven by some relentless task master. And then, and only then would I be permitted to relax. What I have discovered is that this task master lives in my head and there is never – EVER – going to be a time when every task is finished. Enter the “Safe Word.”
One of many positive things I have gained from beginning my recovery from anorexia and bulimia over a year ago, is that I am better able to listen to my body and give it what it actually needs, not what the eating disorder thinks it needs or isn’t allowed to need. I am not going to tell you what my safe word is and frankly, that’s not important. When I feel my anxiety rising, the air leave the room and my brain ache under the pressure of everything on my plate I stop and silently whisper my safe word to myself. It’s enough to pause and take stock of where I am at mentally and FORCE myself to relax. (I have mentioned H.A.L.T. before and this is a version of that).
I don’t always have the ability to relax the way I would choose (children are surprisingly unwilling to accept a parent’s desire for any kind of rest – see: newborn babies). But the point is, I recognize a need I have and if I have to I schedule a time to relax – I will. This all plays in to the bigger picture of feeding your soul and being able to bring your full attention to whatever it is your doing – the ability to be completely present. So acknowledge that no one has you chained up and you will not be whipped if you do not finish your chores, work, whatever, right. this. minute.