What do you do when self care becomes another to do on a long list. Like its no longer about love and feeling good, but an ought, a should, that you don’t quite get to and then feel guilty about. When that happens, it doesn’t feel like care or love at all. It starts to feel like shame. “Oh look, another thing I failed at.” (Shout out to my friend Heather Eaton, pondering on these same things.)
For me, caring for self is tied up in issues around being a care giver. It’s tied up in my own pride. And its tied up in issues of self worth.
“Who’s got time for that? I’m too busy caring for my __________.” Is that a note of martyrdom there? Justifying existence by productivity and caring for others?
To that I say: YOU ARE VALUABLE JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE YOU AND NOT BASED ON WHAT YOU PRODUCE OR WHO ELSE YOU CARE FOR.
“That’s nice, but I’m going great. I don’t need that.” Because there is anyone who doesn’t need love and care? Is it only needed people that need self love and care?
To that I say: YOU ARE STRONG AND BRAVE AND WILL ONLY GROW MORE SO FROM LOVING AND CARINF FOR YOURSELF.
“But I don’t deserve it, I didn’t earn it. There are others who deserve it so much more than me.” Because you are somehow less than? Or because love and care must be earned? Would you say that to anyone but yourself?
To that I say: YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE AND CARE JUST AS YOU ARE. IT IS AS OR MORE IMPORTANT THAN FOOD AND WATER.
“Put on your oxygen mask before helping others.” You have to care for you first or how can you even thinking about caring for other people or things? They will be suffocated and snuffed out by a building resentment of all we pour in and don’t get out. But we don’t love and care for these things and people simply to get something from them, right? And the first step to loving and caring unconditionally is to do that for ourselves. Then we may have the capacity, strength, and wisdom to discern how and when to give that same kind of love and care.
If there were no “buts,” if money or circumstance, or role or anything else got in your way, what would your life look like? Picture your face, your body, your clothing. What has made you look and feel this way? What does this person do with their time? What would it look like to take even one very small step toward her/him?
I have a journal entry from 2005 asking these same questions and then making some descriptions. (I was also recently pointed to an article asking many of the same by Sarah Jenks.) That can seem disheartening in a way…am I still pondering over the same questions from 14 years ago? But here’s the thing, the answers are different. Maybe these are just questions we have to visit regularly. Here’s hoping…