Self-Care is not a Dirty Word

Up-Coming Holidays
2/28 Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras
3/1 Ash Wednesday, beginning of Lent
3/20 Spring Equinox: more info at  https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-spring-equinox/

I have been writing short little essays on RA and living with its after-effects since 2000 and each time I sit down to write one, unless I have planned it out well in advance, I clutch and think I have nothing more to say. However, I pretty much always find something to write about, even if I think it is trivial.

This week, it’s not that I’m convinced I have said every last thing there is to say about ritual abuse and healing, it’s that I am just plain exhausted from the first few days of February. I took off a very long weekend, getting out of the house only to go to the garden. And I did a lot of crosswords and on-line jigsaw puzzles and very few things on my to-do list. I have learned to call this self-care, not procrastination.

It’s amazing how life does not fall apart when I don’t do things I want to do or I think I ought to do. The cats get fed, I get fed and washed, I take my meds. I give the cats their meds. Everything else is extra. And that is okay – no need to get crazy about it.

This is a relatively new development. For a long time I have understood that keeping doctor and dentist appointments, eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercising counted as self-care. Doing the dishes, too – although that feels more like dishes-care. After all, I could use paper plates or eat right out of the pot, couldn’t I?

My mother made sure I wore pretty dresses (her taste, not mine), had styled hair, clean fingernails, and good manners. I did not learn self-care from her efforts because these things made me feel like a piece of furniture that was so ugly it needed layers and layers of slipcovers. I still know those things and can do them if necessary but I am much happier ignoring them. School didn’t teach anything that looked like self-care, either.

Starting out on my healing journey, like with so many other things, I had no role models to figure out what self-care for an RA survivor looks like. But these days I do. Many, if not all, of the survivor blogs talk about self-care. I can read about what others do and find out if it works for them or not and I can try it for myself. Obviously, not everything works for everybody, so there is no need to feel a failure if something that comes highly recommended does nothing for me.

If you would like to check out some blogs, go to http://ra-info.org/for-and-by-survivors/blogs/

Oh, there is something extremely important about the concept of self-care. If you are exhausted and need to rest, call it what it is, rest. Not procrastination or vegging out or being lazy or being depressed. That is not being kind to yourself! It’s an old tape from long long ago and there is no need to keep it going. Go and get a brand new shining tape and see what it does for you.

(And then tell us all about it.)

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18 thoughts on “Self-Care is not a Dirty Word

  1. Thank you for the nice words about self- care, I recognize often being too hard on the self. You are right we never learned self- care… how strange… so you tell us and we know, thank you

    1. I am so happy that you can see yourself in some things I wrote. I know there are people here who would have a hard time relating to being raised a Satanist, and I am glad and honored that they can find enough value in my words to keep on reading.

      I hope you can enjoy the spring at least a little bit. I know that when I was low it hurt, because the beauty of the natural world was so different from what was inside me.

      1. Jean, those who struggled before in the process of recovery help others by their words, as no one that never experienced it would understand what it is really about. Your last words about the beauty of the natural words is almost a copy of my experiences when I literally could not believe the color of roses was that beautiful, as if you never thought you would enjoy something beautiful. I keep on reading your posts, thanks again.

        1. Our experiences were so different. Horrible, yes, and for the most part not acknowledged bu society. But you are far more isolated than I am because there is a community of ritual abuse survivors, and you know nobody who has lived through what you did. My heart goes out to you.

          1. Thank you Jean. Isolated it feels. In lack of good mental health and because solutions are so difficult. I post about it tonight. Awareness, like what you do is such a great thing, this is the first step in recognition. I admire you Jean.

            1. Oh, yes, awareness is the very first step. If you aren’t aware of what happened and what the obstacles are in dealing with it, you are in the dark. For years I knew there was something very wrong with me, and so I tried this, and that, and then something else, hoping that would solve the problem. But I did not know about the abuse.

              Now that I know, I can write calmly about things and hopefully be a help to you and others.

              I admire you tremendously for https://iwritedid.wordpress.com I hope that you may find kindred souls through your brave efforts.

            2. We do our best. In fact, writing helps to get reflection. This should be part of any therapy. Reflection creates awareness somewhere in the self. Connections in yourself are important. To understand and get stronger. Thank you for your encouraging comment.

  2. Thanks for the great reminder. It was this side of a decade that I learned to practice certain skills; we’re worth it. You’re worth it. ❤

  3. I really related to what you wrote. I used to “thing” myself, i.e., treating myself like an object. I would spend money on clothes, etc., but it didn’t come from inside me, organically, from being in touch with myself and what i wanted/needed. That has gradually changed as i learn to listen inside and really take care of myself.

    It’s too bad our culture is so work obsessed that there’s not much supprt in taking it easy and being self- compassionate and gentle with ourselves.

    You set a good example. Thank you for sharing it. 🙂

    Wendy

    1. Oh boy, it takes so long to learn.I’m glad you figured out hoe to do it!

      My mother “thinged” me, didn’t she? I should have been Shirley Temple.

  4. Self care feels so scary still – even with 6 years no self harm, I still struggle with SI and SUI urges because of it 😦 Thank you for this – I often forget self care can be a good thing :-/

    1. Libby, try saying something like “old tape” every time those thoughts pop up. Or “hi, how are you? what are you up to today?” And then go back to what you were doing. It worked like a charm for me — I think the thoughts liked to be acknowledged (or rather the part of me that was thinking them) and then they got less often and less insistent. It’s a gentle way of dealing with them, not a struggle.

      I never thought self-care was a good thing – I thought it was some new-agey concept that had no place in my life. How much other survivors have taught me!

          1. This week my therapy homework has been to work on self care and everytime those thoughts and urges popped up I’ve responded with something like “wow, it must really hurt to not be able to have anything that feels safe and always have to be alone with everything” — the urges are still there but nowhere near as strong 🙃 I’ve also noticed that many times this week I’ve been getting responses from littles inside I don’t know well 🐶 To me, even if they’re stubborn or defensive, It’s still a good thing – because so long as we keep communicating I think things will become easier and easier 🙂

            1. I bet those two things are related. If the urges to hurt yourself are a cry for help from the littles, when you say that they feel understood and brave enough to show themselves to you. And as you show them you understand you may see their behavior change. After all, they have never met anybody like you!

  5. Great post, Jean..really good thoughts on self-care. I’ve been working on learning it..and it’s been difficult but I’m getting better at it! Loved this…xx

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