Even Wonder Woman Needs a Respite

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Say It Out Loud /Chapter 4: Creating a Respite

The word respite is defined as a usually short interval of rest or relief. In the context of this book, a respite is a brief time when your mind is not embedded in thoughts of abuse, treatment, and emotional pain and life resembles normalcy.

            The journey to healing is long and can consume your whole being. You can be wrapped up in the various stages of therapy twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. And yet if you remain in this intense state of awareness, you will soon be devoid of any emotional and physical energy to go on. But the reality is that life will go on regardless. Jackson Browne’s song title “Running on Empty” puts words to this thought. You cannot put the demands of your family and your job on hold just because you are running on empty. Your children still need to be cared for, and your bills need to be paid. So how do you manage your life and find the time or place to refuel? How do you put the most invasive time of your life aside long enough to give you the respite you need to regain strength?

walk on beach

Creating a respite is a strategy I used throughout my years in therapy. Today I want to share this strategy in a more generic way:

Creating a Respite from Life

I thought of this topic, Creating a Respite from Life, recently when I felt I was “running on empty.” It was following a two week period of almost constant reflection on my healing journey. I was preparing for and then presenting two talks related to Say It Out Loud. The preparation required reading passages from the book, bouncing ideas off of my “A-Team,” writing the speeches, and then practice, practice, practice until I could almost give them from memory. In the days after, I processed the effectiveness of each talk, adjusted ideas for future use, and listened to those who wanted to share their feedback.

Promoting a book, and for me promoting a message, doesn’t stop once the book is in print. Keeping up with social media, searching for new speaking venues, and finding author events to join can be a full-time job. As a She Writes Press author I also devote time to supporting my SWP sisters by following their social media content. All time consuming, all related in some way to my healing journey, all leading up to a woman “running on empty” – ME!

That’s when I decided to follow my own advise and create a respite. Although I stayed somewhat present on social media sites, I didn’t do anything related to talking about or promoting Say It Out Loud. Instead I concentrated on family and friends, my house (well, sort of) and bingeing on Netflix with my husband.

After several days in this blissful state, guilt started seeping in: I should be writing a blog post, finding more author events, making contacts for speaking. I normally don’t associate any positive attributes with guilt but in this case my guilt was telling me something: I was refueled and ready to get back at saying it out loud. Creating a respite did its job.

On Mothers Day I thought of all the women who need to create their own respite. Mom’s tend to think they are a direct decedent of Wonder Woman–taking care of children, aging parents, husbands, jobs, houses, and meals all while trying to simulate the body, hair and make-up of the warrior princess.

What happens to most women who try to maintain superhero status? They become resentful. Resentful of those who aren’t pulled in 20 directions at once, resentful of the man in their life who thinks nothing of choosing a round of golf over mowing the lawn, resentful because she doesn’t take time out for herself. Resentment is as draining as the energy it takes to be a superhero and soon Wonder Woman is running on empty.

“So how do you manage your life and find the time or place to refuel?”

My advise is this: Instead of reaching the stage of resentment, create a respite. It doesn’t need to be a week long respite like mine. One day, or even a few hours can be enough to refuel.

Here are some steps to follow for creating a respite:

  • Choose something familiarly pleasing to you. If you’ve never taken a yoga class this is not the time to start. You don’t want the added stress of trying something new. If you know you love yoga, a walk on the beach or watching a chic-flick alone, make that your respite choice.
  • Let your significant others know you are taking time out for you and set boundaries – no phone calls, no interruptions, no judging.
  • Put a time frame around your respite. If you predetermine you’re allowing yourself six hours, then if the guilt does seep in, you can remind yourself that these six hours are all yours. You can return to being Wonder Woman when the time is up.
  • Make a plan to create a respite again in the not so distant future. Maintaining energy is much easier than restoring energy because you really are running on empty.

Whether you are an over worked mom, emotionally drained writer, or highly committed employee, if you find yourself feeling resentful for all you do, or know your energy is depleted, take the time to create a respite. The result will be a happier, more productive YOU.

I look forward to hearing about your respites! Roberta

For more on Creating a Respite or other strategies for coping with life pick up a copy of Say It Out Loud by clicking on the book cover at the bottom of this page.


  1. Karen Z |

    I have often thought about respite as a concept but never really practiced it. My thinking changed recently when I was recovering from surgery and was forced into a respite. I took time to focus on my nutrition, rest, and emotional well being. I have never felt so free, so light, so calm. My recovery has been speedy. We should all take a lesson from this in our normal lives, respite is healing and powerful.

    • Sandy |

      So glad you’re finding your respite, I’m glad you’re healing Karen. I’m in RI right now, my respite. Even though I’m cleaning and working all weekend I know I’m preparing for a summer of walks on the beach and taking care of feeding my soul. Nothing could be better!