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

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

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.)