The Role of Self Care
Let me tell you something. I HATE self care…. or at least I thought I did. The idea of self care was introduced to me when I first entered therapy over a decade ago and I dismissed it without a second thought. “I don’t need self care,” I would say to myself. ” It isn’t important, it’s indulgent, I don’t deserve it, and it certainly won’t help.” This was my stance for years and years as I refused to do it whenever suggested.
As I have gone through therapy, I have become aware of an emptiness inside me. I tried starving it away, I tried eating to fill the void, I basically did everything I could to run away from it. It was uncomfortable, unsettling, and scary. Nothing that I tried helped in the long run. I could convince myself that it would get better with symptoms but it was always there in the background. I couldn’t escape it and every time I tried to get better, the emptiness would get in the way of moving forward.
It is only recently that I have started realizing what this emptiness is about. In part, I believe it is that I have never felt good enough in my entire life. Connected to that is that I am highly sensitive and never felt understood. Every time I stuffed down my emotionality, I would carve into the thing that made me who I was and am today.
This time around, I am accepting that to find recovery and fill the emptiness, I have to find what has been missing for a very long time. Nurturance, self compassion, someone that understands who I am. *Cue realization* These things that I have been yearning to find from external sources are something that I can actually give to myself.
After beating myself up a bit for realizing this so late into the game and not listening to my treatment team earlier, I started making a list. What are some activities that I can do that feel good and nurturing. It started out with small things : take a bubble bath, paint my toes, read a favorite book. As I got used to doing these activities, they started becoming routine and feeling good rather than strange and foreign. My list got a little longer : ask for a hug, talk kindly to my inner child, journal and express my feelings.
The results are still coming in and being tallied. So far, I don’t need to turn to symptoms or negative self talk every time I feel that emptiness. I now have this new shiny tool in my back pocket that actually works. It takes time and patience to make this a habit and it feels hard at first, but give it a try. Who knows, you might surprise yourself!