BY ASHLEY TIEPERMAN

Bubble baths are not bad.

Ok, we had to just make that clear. My personal shopping list (if I'm ever organized enough to actually make a list) includes some soothing Dr. Teal's. If I'm ever not answering a text or a phone call, it's usually because I'm locked away with Dr. Teal's and some Netflix on my laptop. My mom bathes enough to win her the title of Bath Queen. She taught me the importance of a relaxing bubble bath, even from my NO MORE TEARS brand days when Mom had to hold me down to tame my tangled curls.

But what we're talking about here is the kind of self-care that actually means ignoring yourself.

Wait, what?

For me, some of my most fulfilling moments happen when I take time to help other people. As a writer, I have this urgent need to put words on a page. Some of my best stories came from hours spent at a homeless shelter or visiting an elderly woman at a nursing home. 

No, you should not declare me a saint like Mother Teresa. What I'm saying is, we learn so much about ourselves when we just get over ourselves and lend a hand. When we step out of our own stories to learn other people's stories.

Over the years, I'm stubbornly learning the value of home—regardless of the zip code digits you hold in your heart. I've gained an appreciation for my home, after years of feeling like I wanted a ticket to ANYWHERE BUT HERE. My people loved me bigger than I deserved, even while addictions grew like mold in secret places.

The point of home is to have one place where you're a rock star. One place where you're known and loved and someone asks what time they'll hear you turn the door knob. And for all the people who don't have this special place, we have to show up. We have to help. We have to remind them they are worthy of a love so deep that we hear their voices from center stage and we see their name in lights.

The point isn't to just go hang out with people who fall in the forgotten bracket and then return to your comfortable life to give yourself a pat on the back for feeling blessed.

The point is to open your heart. To see and feel the pain of others. To build community around other people who need your love.

To make it a daily habit to love others. To be addicted to love, like the good kind of habit and the real kind of love.

To realize you are not alone in this big and messy world. If I learned anything from the Olympics it's that being on a team of one would suck.

It's easy to turn charity work into an item we check off on our How to Feel Better About Ourselves lists. But what if we help because we need to get our hands dirty? Maybe it's cuddling a puppy at a dog rescue home or eating dinner with your neighbor who lives alone. Or maybe it's helping someone polish up a resume to land that job they really need to pay rent and eat.

Life with an addict can become consuming. If we don't make helping others or volunteering a priority, we'll spend our days failing as Mr. or Mrs. Fix-It, too exhausted to do anything other than order Domino's and click the remote.

This exercise in helping others isn't specific to "addict" or "loving an addict." It's about humans and loving our world around us.

It's about realizing we're all part of a bigger story.

It's seeing the mess in the world, but then giving thanks that there's hope and beauty found when we sniff around. It's getting out of your house and realizing it's time to stop moping around as the victim. It's showing up somewhere where they'll learn your name—and it won't be Broken. It's making new habits that have nothing to do with trying to save an addict, but everything to do with learning to live like a human who loves.

It's planting a new butterfly bush for your neighbor and watching out your window as all the butterflies flutter by every day. They will flutter, Hopeful. They will flutter.

I don't know about you, but I'm not the kind of girl who wants to sit still and look pretty. I want to change the world. So instead, I'll settle on showing up for someone who needs to hear, "I've tried walking down that road before. I hear you." And when I get home from helping my friends or making new friends, I promise I'll soak in that bubble bath. 

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