I dread even writing the words. I resist, deny, justify, ignore, and try to learn the lesson over and over again. I had lunch with a friend recently and we were talking about my trip to Italy. I shared my realization of how much work just caring for myself canbe – walking 2-3 hours a day, getting to my writing, cooking healthy food – that’s a full time job!
“You learned this before,” she says.
Of course, she’s right. In fact, I’ve learned it many times before. And I know I’m not alone in this. Raise your hand if you are POSITIVE you would put your oxygen mask on first when sitting next to a small child…. I think I would, but at the risk of watching my child pass out, I can’t say I’m certain. Thankfully we’re past that age. We’re getting to the age where it’s more likely he’ll have to put my mask on me.
Which begs the question: Why is self care so hard? Is it a male/female thing? A motherhood thing?Why is the line between self-care and selfish blurry? Why does caring for others come naturally, but caring for ourselves require reminders and negotiations and, sometimes, very loud wake-up calls?
I’m pretty sure most us of know, on an intellectual level at least, that we can take better care of others if we take care of ourselves. But even there, it’s caring for others that becomes the underlying motivation.
As an enduring patient self-care is especially critical. Cancer, the ultimate in biological chaos, thrives in a chaotic, stress-filled environment – and yet when I feel that stress going up, I panic and get angry at myself for not managing it better, and in the rare instances when I can’t talk myself down, an emotional funnel cloud begins to form. Growing up in the midwest, I certainly know where that leads…
Personally, some of this is tied up in the driving need to finish “the list” so that my self-care time is truly mine – free of errands pending, meals unplanned, homework unchecked, laundry piled up. Never mind the unread books, waiting phone messages, or my writing. Of course, at the same time, I am fully aware that few of those tasks are critical, and that if I took the time for me none of they wouldn’t be as daunting or frenetic.
So it’s a new year, filled with new opportunities, a tabula rasa (as each day is, but what the hell, I’ll give into the “resolution” thing just a bit).
How do you make sure you’re on the list?
Are you able to strike a balance?
Do you have a spiritual practice? Should you? Would you?
Who helps you take care of you?