Quite often, when I think of the words “self care”, I think of pedicures, and dinners with friends, and freedom to hook up with or be with who I want. I think of going to a movie by myself because, self care. I think of going to get a hair cut or going shopping or putting on a cleansing face mask because… self care. And all these things do make me feel good, especially when I am down in the dumps. However, there is another side to self care that is rarely talked about; a side that is very hard to do, and often forgotten.
The other side of the self care, is the side that involves looking inside yourself, not seeking things outside of yourself. The other side of self care involves being vulnerable; acknowledging your feelings and sitting with them.
After my most recent “break up” with my situationship partner of about a year, I was and still am crushed. We had tried to cut things once before, and I threw myself at distractions, and got mani-pedis and hung out with multiple friends multiple times a day, and exhausted myself in the name of “self care”. In all reality, I was distracting myself from the intense love I felt for this person, the sadness that I felt that we couldn’t develop a relationship, and the sorrow that I felt within myself that I couldn’t face what was really bothering me: that fact that we were only using each other to fill voids. And because we did not acknowledge that within ourselves, we rekindled what was, and that was that. Until it wasn’t.
So, this most recent time, instead of distracting myself from my feels, which is was kept me in the situationship for so long, I let myself really sit and feel. I wrote in my journal, wrote in my gratitude book, talked to my friends, cried to my brother. I did all these things to get the feelings out and to really take into account what was going on deeper inside of myself. I sat on my couch and cried my eyes out, over and over again. Now listen, please do not think that I am saying that self care is crying over a break up. Because the reason for my tears had far more to do with this man in my life.
Yes I love him, and yes I was sad that things could not work out, which is why the tears started. Of course. However, the tears continued because I was realizing that I let this go on for so long because I was fearful of being alone. I was fearful that without him, no one else would or could love me because without him, I couldn’t figure out how to love or even like myself. I didn’t think that I would find anything or anyone else, so maybe I was settling. I was realizing all the deeper things that I didn’t like about myself. And, the tears. Kept. Coming.
I made a list of all the things that I don’t like about myself. And I evaluated each of those things and sat with them, in the name of self care. Then, I wrote a list of things I do like about myself and sat with those as well, in the name of self care. I made promises to myself that I will keep, in the name of self care. And vowed to always take time to sit with my feelings, in the name of self care.
When we solely distract ourselves, we are out of sync with what really is. It is also easy to either over exaggerate or under-exaggerate situations because we may not always take the time to really sit and evaluate them. In these cases, the root of the problem has not been solved and we often find ourselves in similar situations, in which case we may end up in a revolving door.
Now, I am not saying that you HAVE to choose a specific form of “self care” or that one side is better than the other. But I am saying that there should be a balance of you taking care of yourself and having the freedom to do the things you wants, while also being in tune with your feelings and why you may be feeling the way that you do.
This is my story. This is our story.