Self-care is such a great buzzword lately. It’s meant to reflect listening to your body, listening to your mind, paying attention to the sensations around you and making sure you take care of yourself. It focuses on “negative” emotions and feelings and tries to get us back to a good place. It bases itself on telling you that if you feel bad you need to do things to make yourself feel good.
As you probably guessed, I have a love-hate with the idea of self-care (though truthfully I have a love-hate with the entire wellness movement). I am all for understanding your body/mind/soul. I’m all for doing things that feed your body/mind/soul. I’m 100% here for doing things that make you feel good and happy. But I’m not here for the idea that emotions and feelings are negative. Everything serves a purpose, everything has its place. When we hold something up as an ideal … that means something (or someone) is not the ideal. We hold up an idea that we need to chase This Ideal, that we need to do whatever it takes to be This Ideal and if you’re not? Then you’re a failure, you’re a problem, you’re not doing something right (or good). It’s a very slippery slope from saying this is how things should be to saying this is how people ought to be … and to not be that is opening yourself up to judgement, and isolation, and shunning. That if you can’t be the thing, to live your life “right” then obviously there is something wrong with you.
A guess I’m a bit more passionate about this topic than I first thought.
I’ve been struggling with the idea of self-care lately. This blog is really the only place I’ve been most forth coming about things happening around me … and truthfully, I’m not saying everything. I’ve been isolating myself more and more from family and friends. I barely talk to my friends and I haven’t actually spoken to most of my family in months. To be fair, I’ve lived a lot of my life as an introverted recluse, so none of this information surprises people. What is surprising is understanding this is my go-to M.O: when the going gets tough I hide and survive. Break-ups, lost jobs, my divorce, my eating disorder … I push through but I withdraw. And this all has to be addressed at some point, but it’s being eating at me a bit. So I decided this weekend needed to be one of pure self-care. And then, insert panic, when I realized I had no idea what that truly entailed. And if you’ve ever googled “self care ideas” you’ll get hit with a whack of information about all the things you can do to treat and pamper yourself. But a lot of them were either outside of the realm of possibility and (more importantly) means for me.
So I found myself in a mental bind. I liked the idea of self-care, but I was worried about this perfectionist tendency to judge myself if I can’t do something exactly right. And since true self-care has no right or wrong I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I couldn’t figure out what I needed. And there in lies the rub. What did I actually want?
Turns out … I’m not looking to make myself feel good because I feel bad right now. I feel out of sync. Out of balance. Out of sorts. I’m not going to make stress and anxiety go away. I needed to learn what I could do in the short term (weekend) and long term (planning) to get closer to my own personal balance and/or figure out what that balance is. I’ve found that part of the balance is a mixture of personal relaxing time, but maintain adult responsibilities. It’s holding myself accountable and being accountable. It’s recognizing that I could do more, but it’s okay to do less. It’s learning to stop apologizing for doing what I need to each day. It’s opening up about what is happening. And it’s figuring out how to maintain better relationships with my family and friends, not because it’s expected, but because it’s something that is mutually wanted.
So this weekend I aimed for balance. On Friday night my theme was comfort. I am learning and understanding that comfort food is not bad. Good food can be comforting, and comforting food can be good. Everything in balance as I’m able to. So I made myself good wholesome comforting food, and I sat in front of my TV and watched a wonderfully trashy teenage drama on Netflix. This show feels much like a guilty pleasure, but I am happily enjoying it on my BF-free time because it’s not his cup of tea and that’s okay.
On Saturday I had planned to go grocery shopping, go for a run, spend a bit of time cleaning my home, and then enjoy the rest of my afternoon/evening with BF doing what we do best. But I listened to my body when our shopping outing kept us walking more than we had planned, and knowing that a run wouldn’t be wise. I took breaks as I cleaned so I wouldn’t wear myself out. And though I didn’t get it all done I was proud that I made smart choices for me. I finished my evening off with a bath during the hockey game and maintaining my usual bedtime.
Sunday started with our new/usual tradition of me making french toast for breakfast (I’m getting really good at it). After BF took off for his Sunday outing I was right back to flipping between a few chores and that TV show. I took some time to knit. And I took some time to think about where I’m at and where I want to go. Tonight perhaps BF and I will watch cartoons, and maybe I’ll head to bed early because I’m feeling a bit run down. The point is each day I looked for balance. I listened to what my body was trying to tell me and I choose to do things based on that, a mix of maintaining my responsibilities and taking time to just be.
This coming week will require a bit of soul searching, as deep and cliche as it is to say. Look for a more in-depth entry by the end of the week. But in the vein of honesty and accountability I want to let you know what is happening to me. I’m relapsing on my eating disorder, and I have been for awhile … most notably in the last few weeks, but truthfully it’s been happening for a few months while I pretended it was okay and I had a handle on it. In reality I have felt control slipping away from me for some time now, and it was my own belief that (a) I was better than this and (b) that it wasn’t actually as bad as it was that stopped me from admitting it or reach out sooner. Right now I am okay and I am safe, and I will get better eventually.
For now, have a cat picture … as Miss Owl did what she does best, and attacked me while I was knitting today.