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!