Being A Mother To Self-
Why, as women, do we take care of everyone’s needs but sometimes fail to take care of ourselves? I believe many people regard taking care of themselves as a frivolity, or an act of selfishness. Unhealthy demonstrations, disguised as “self-care” are, indeed, selfish and even destructive. Unhinged shopping sprees may give me a temporary lift, but it isn’t the soulful lift I need to manage myself and others. However, taking the time to replace the drawer of missing and tattered socks isn’t selfish. Owning a few shirts to conserve on washing clothes is probably not damaging in any capacity either. Not all acts of shopping for myself are selfish.
Not Trained To Think of Myself As Important
As children, my sister and I never got new clothes or even used clothes very often. Sometimes we got a bag of clothes from an aunt or grandparent. I’m quite sure I never considered the bag of bell-bottom corduroys as a gift…or the “mother” of all kitschy, 70’s chic- the white jumpsuit with bell-bottoms and vintage auto-racing patches. Thus, we never knew what it was like to try on dresses, match accessories, or any of that “girly” stuff. I got through my high school years wearing jeans and t-shirts- black t-shirts, concert t-shirts, one-size-fits-all shirts. I was happy wearing those clothes and it was very low-maintenance. I still do not treat myself by way of buying clothes, although I am very much in need of the most essential of clothing, jeans, and t-shirts. I long for some blouses sometimes but never make the effort to buy myself such things.
Diet & Nutrition- Taking Care of The Physical Body
Those who lack a strong support system especially need to manage self-care in a balanced fashion. We should not turn to mere substitutes or addictions, no matter how benign they may appear. I am guilty of using caffeine as a crutch. This is probably a factor in my erratic moods and weak food choices (carbs, lots of carbs). A steady stream of caffeine and a depletion of vital, cleansing water leads to an abundance of empty calories and garbage in the body. Perhaps my mood swings are the only way my body can adapt to balancing all the garbage I eat and all the mindless clutter I am consumed by each day? This is something I will explore further.
Let’s face it- men have their “man-caves”, and some ladies like to get manicures. And then we have the rest of the world. These are ordinary people taking care of their families, working a job, attending school, etc. They may lack the means- time, energy or money- to enjoy “leisure” activities. It is essential to carve out even a little bit of time for yourself each day, whether you have to stay up after the kids go to bed, or get up earlier to go for a walk, read, or whatever else feeds your soul.
Being busy in life sometimes makes us lose ourselves, which can cause us to feel bitter, devoid and empty. Often, it is not until a crisis or conflict when it becomes apparent that self-care is as important as the care we provide others.
Unpacking the Baggage of the Past
Issues from “the past”, people from our past and messages from the past continue to plague us subconsciously. Both solitude and good company can help us “recharge” and make sense of the world around us. I have suffered frequent episodes of depression in my life, which has made me more isolated at the very times I needed support. I was taught it was embarrassing and “weak” to cry or have emotional needs. As a child, others were told to “not baby me” when I needed to talk or receive encouragement (not criticism). My achievements were not validated by my mother, I wasn’t “validated”. Today, I still battle with such feelings of inadequacies.
I was blessed with grandparents who offered me support. During the summer my sister and I stayed with them, they knew I liked to draw. My grandfather bought me some paper and they had a specific cupboard in the dining room for my art pens and paper. My grandmother would draw with me at times, sharing her celebrity caricatures. I remember a few classmates and teachers recognizing my artistic talents- I was often overcome by embarrassment when somebody gave me a compliment on my work. Other times, I felt proud, but never truly secure in knowing if it was something I should pursue as a vocation. It turns out, my mood issues often made it hard to sustain the fortitude needed to be a professional graphic designer.
My first job as a production artist proved challenging for many reasons- my depressed moods, adjustment to medications, and the stressful work environment (my supervisor didn’t like me, our boss came into work intoxicated, and he and my supervisor had a “love/hate” relationship). In the past decade, I have settled for a more mundane job, but one that provides my family with stability nonetheless. My job does not subject me to harsh attitudes or very much dysfunction, and I have great co-workers.
I had very little training in how to care for myself. Today, I will start by getting my split-ends cuts at the salon. I will heal the “split-ends” of life a little more slowly.