Today I need to take my glasses back. They do not fit right and I tried this new lens that is supposed to make my sight more clear and focused. The problem is that with the slightest bump of the frame, that specific spot that is supposed to enhance my vision gets moved. Then I get a migraine. So the new technology isn’t really helping me. It’s making me miserable.
This is an example of self-care. I would really like to just say it doesn’t bother me that much and go on, hoping that it would stop being an issue. It won’t. I’ll have to keep going back to the store to get the glasses readjusted and suffering through the headaches.
I am a person motivated by helping others. I always want to put other people before myself because I don’t want to be viewed as selfish.
Self-care is not selfish! In order to do the work that Jennifer and I do, and most people do, we have to take care of ourselves. A lot of people struggle with that idea. It is much easier to help someone else than to admit that we need help or need a break. If we need help or a break, we might look vulnerable and someone else might try to take advantage of us.
I am vulnerable and sometimes I need help or a break. There. I said it. The sky did not fall and the world did not stop spinning.
One thing I have learned is that if I don’t take care of myself, I will burn out. I can’t help anyone else if I’m not strong in myself. I can, but I have a stronger possibility of hurting them and myself. I am learning that being stubborn really isn’t worth all that. I don’t want to hurt anyone and I still have too much to do and say burn myself out.
If you’ve ever flown on an airplane and are still listening when they give you the talk about safety and what to do, they actually give a very good example of self care. If the need should arrive that you have to put on the oxygen mask, put on your mask first. Do it before you help the child, the elderly person, or whomever next to you. Take care of yourself first and you will be better able to help another.
Yes, it sounds selfish, but you cannot be your best self and help someone else to the best of your ability if you don’t help yourself first. I am learning this every day, but it is one thing I know for sure is true.
As survivors of sexual abuse, and I would broaden that to survivors of society, we are supposed to only care for others. That sounds all nice and practical and self-sacrificing, but it is really absurd. When you can take time to express your needs and learn to care for yourself, you actually put forth a much stronger self. People may give you flack about taking care of yourself, but it is primarily because they are envious of what you have and are stuck. They don’t know how to care for themselves or even where to start.
I also have residual voices in my head of people like my father. In learning to care for myself and do self-care, I had to learn to tell his voice to shut up. He shows no care for anyone; yet expected me as a child, to care for all of his adult needs. It was inappropriate and abusive. It left me with scars on my self-esteem I am still trying to mend, but at some point, my own voice became louder than his and I realized that his voice was not as important as my own. That was a big and scary step for me. Remembering his voice and how it made me feel and knowing how I feel now, I would never go back to listening to his belittling, self-serving voice. (And yes, there is a difference between self-care and being self-serving.)
Like everyone else, I’m a work in process. I’m not always good at self-care and there are times when I can’t take care of myself right at that moment, but then I need to take the time at another period of life and do something I enjoy. It is important and vital to my life.
Today for self-care, I am taking my glasses back and getting some new sandals. If you are unsure that you are worthy of self-care and haven’t gotten to that point, Jennifer and I give you permission. You are worthy and the world will really be better if you learn the practice.
If not today, what are you doing this week for self-care?