Self-care != Self-ish
I've been avoiding writing about the pandemic.* Everyone has been and to contribute to the processing of pain and loss and stress - I didn't know if I could accurately thread my own story into there.
You'd probably recognize a lot of it. My story mirrors so much of what has happened and is happening to others.
An ending of a long-term relationship,
adopting a rescue pet to forget how
fucked up the rest of your life is
and god just to care
for something - anything
so you don't have to think
about what a mess the world is in.
But let's talk about healing.
Can you heal while the wound is open
and bleeding profusely?
Of course, bleeding profusely
and also the knife
is still above the opening
waiting to gouge deeper
not stopping perhaps until
it has reached bone
or come out the other side.
Apologies. I'm used to writing poetry when dealing with these thoughts.**
In therapy, though, something clicked and I found myself practicing it modestly, and then more deliberately over the last couple of weeks.
I'm being kind to myself.***
When I'm tired and it's only 8pm, I might shower and crawl into bed with a book. I don't try to fight it or beat myself up for being "lazy."
I started taking time making my meals. Each action from cutting the onion to putting the pan in the oven becomes my whole focus. I savor each smell, each taste, as it changes with additions of spice.
No one is moving me out of the kitchen to make their own meal. So what is the problem with just taking up space?
Owning space, expanding - filling outward and inward.
The more the pandemic goes on, the more I like being in the kitchen. It's the one place indoors that encourages movement and invites all senses to take part.
So I create more activities that allow me to be in the kitchen.
Because I can.
There were so few things in the Before Times that I'd just "allow" myself to do because I didn't want to stop or feel like I was slowing someone else down.
But with everyone at a standstill, who cares?
I understand that I am talking from a place of privilege. It's only me and my cat. I don't have children, a partner, or any dependents otherwise - and I still have a job.
The thing about being kind to yourself, though, is that the size of your kindness and when you give it, doesn't matter.
From what I realized, that extra two minutes in the shower, making your favorite tea at the end of the day, or even indulging in a crappy TV show to make yourself laugh - all of that is fair game.
Those two to 20 minutes sprinkled in over the course of the week is fucking magic - especially when you ground yourself in the experience.
How your skin defrosts
in steam and hot water,
floral notes in the tea,
that one part in the show
where the guy loses his pants.
I used to think favoring myself this way was selfish. That it was contributing negatively to my role in society if I wasn't spending every minute of every day improving myself or helping others do the same.
Except, there was a flaw to that thinking:
If I use all my energy helping others or giving them my presence or time or whatever - how does that energy come back?
What happens when you have nothing left to give?
It didn't take me long to understand that I was running on negative fuel.
Self-care is a nourishment all unto itself, and a little goes a helluva long way. Once you learn to practice it, and feed your hungry soul, you can start making meals for others again.
*At least directly.
**Also formatting for a blog post sucks. Line spacing is all off.
***There are two amazing organizations that I would also like to thank for this discovery.
It's important to note that, like most things, Whites have co-opted practices from other cultures and have branded them as their own.
We need to recognize this fact and work on giving back the credit to those who deserve it.