It never gets any easier

I’ve always struggled with the notion of looking after myself, considering it indulgent. Now, though, I realise, I deserve some self-nurture and so, today, after two weeks of looking down at my naked toenails and feeling my hard heels scuff the sheets, I decided it was time for a pedicure.
There’s a spa in our apart’hotel and so, I headed up to the 22nd floor to try out Kamboja for the first time.

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And so I sat there in a room decorated with rolled white towels, dotted with fresh magenta orchids and breathed in the pervasive scents of aromatherapy oils. Nestling into the sausage-shaped cushion at my back I relaxed, ready to enjoy 50 minutes of pampering.

What ensued, however, apart from smooth heels, the odd comment on my bristly legs and a lovely cup of ginger tea, was what usually happens. And it always throws me.

I started to chat to my therapist, Rosita. She asked about the boys and commiserated with me that we’ll not be around for Josh’s 21st later this month, looked sad when I told her we’d been on the move abroad for 25 years and then she told me her story:

When her youngest son was two, and her elder just four, her lovely husband felt dizzy and fell 10 floors to his death. In order to fund her boys’ education she moved to work first in Singapore, then Taiwan and now Kuala Lumpur. She’s been away 13 years and has not seen her boys for six years, though she plans a two week holiday next year. Throughout all this, she was smiling.

As if I did not feel guilty enough about stopping work at 4pm to go to the spa, I felt guilty that she’d been expressing sadness for me, when I knew I’d not be going more than six months without seeing my kids, when she hadn’t seen her boys for years.

Wherever I go in the world, I meet delightful people like Rosita, who work all the hours God sends to earn money to send home so their families have a better life. I’ve never had to be separated from Ian, and only ‘lost’ the boys when they left home for uni anyway. I have nothing to be sorry for but it never gets any easier hearing these stories. While I’m here it’s not looking after myself that’s going to make me feel bad, I can tell you.


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