be good to yourself
When I first saw the idea of "self-care" floating around Tumblr, I was pretty skeptical. The concept was simple: just take some time to take care of you. Do things you enjoy. Make sure you're fed, hydrated, and well-rested. Or maybe just do something non-essential but inspiring, like painting your nails or putting on lotion. At the time, the whole notion of "self-care" sounded... well, selfish. But then again, I'm pretty self-deprecating.
I brushed it off initially, but then I started to warm to the idea. But I still didn't do anything. I thought things like this: Someday I'll have time to take care of myself, right?
And then, a month or two ago, after an extremely rough day, my mom made me get in the bath, turned off all the lights, brought me a candle, and let me marinate in some hot water.
That's when I realized what self care was. Self care is taking some time to not be with anyone but you and your thoughts. It's about taking some time to breathe and rest, clear your head, and feel peace deep down in your soul.
And then, yet again, I brushed it off. It's so easy to think, "I'll take care of myself tomorrow. I don't have time." But a couple of weeks ago, I was having a bad pain day. 'Cuz, ya know, a stupid thing called fibromyalgia. Everything hurt, I was exhausted. Getting out of bed had been a challenge, and emotionally I was a wreck. I kept telling myself, "I just want to not be sick. Just for one day (or maybe a very long time to be honest), I want my chronic illness to not exist."
Then I spilled chocolate protein shake on myself, and that was the last straw. I abandoned all my conversations online, I abandoned all my plans, and I went up to the shower.
And then while in the shower, I thought about self care and what it really means.
At the beginning of 2014, my wish for the year was, "2014, be good to me!" (Unfortunately, 2014 has been pretty dang rude, but that's another story.) I had already been thinking about the irony of that statement, since this year has been a rough one. Then that thought collided with another; the one about self care. And I thought: If I don't be good to myself, who will?
Now yes, there are those fabulous people that take care of you and care about you and want to make sure you're all right. But here's the thing: they're not always around. The only flesh-and-blood person you are around 100% of the time is... you. And shouldn't that make us love ourselves? After all, we have to live with us.
But instead, a lot of us, me included, deal with self-loathing. And maybe that's why the idea of self care is so odd to us. We've learned, somehow and from somewhere, to hate our bodies, to hate ourselves.
But we need to love us.
Think about this: if I had heard my friend was going through what I had--having a bad pain day, crying, spilling protein shake, and overall feeling crappy--I would've wanted them to take care of themselves since I couldn't do it for them. I would want them to treat themselves with just as much love and care as I would want to treat them. I would want them to take care of themselves for me. (I think this is a universal concept, judging by how we tell people to "take care.")
But yet when I'm faced with the option of taking care of myself and not taking care of myself, I choose not to do it. Why? Why shouldn't I be good to me? Life is too short to spend hating myself. Life is too short to not take care of you, to not make sure you know you are loved, even if you're the one taking sometime out of your day to make yourself feel that way. Next time life is hard, take a bath with candles. My mom made me do it. Trust me, it works.
I hope the next time you find yourself down and needing some love that you take care of yourself. Take some time to just be you. Find your peace and remember how to be okay and how to be happy again. Take time to get to the point where you can know that things will work out. Take some time to rest in the knowledge that you are loved: by God, by other people, and most of all, you. At risk of sounding trite, I hope your times of self care help you remember how important and special and beautiful and smart and funny and wonderful you truly are.
2014 was not good to me, but that's okay. I can take more time to be good to myself, to put lotion on my arms, to rest, to take baths, to not stress. I know it's not easy and I'll definitely backslide more than once, but I also know this: it's important and borderline necessary for me to start doing these things.
And slowly, but surely, I'm learning how. I hope you can learn to take care of yourself, too.