What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
Hello, folks, and welcome back. This week I want to do something a little different. I want to be a little broader and say specifically that this is for all of us, especially for those of us who are having a hard time for whatever reasons.
My desire to go in this direction today is a direct result of me having some epic self-care fails lately. It started with being knocked on my butt with a cold. For me, as you have probably experienced, needing to slow down or stop to be sick and recover can be pretty emotionally loaded. I had to stay home from work for a few days, I had to not write on my usual schedule, and I had to not be doing all the things so I could recover.
Granted, I knew what needed to be done logically. Of course I knew that in order for me to let my body recover I needed to chill out, let it pass, hydrate and whatnot.
But this cold turned me into an anxiety-riddled, panicky asshole.
Unfortunately, the usual target of my assholeness is myself.
The first thing to slip was my usually high level of self-care. My particular flavor of anxiety tends to manifest in internalized ways and I turn into a Robojerk. Instead of nurturing myself the way I would nurture someone else, I get angry at myself. I deny myself the pleasures of my type of self-care -- because obviously if I’m a lazy piece of crap spending all my time sleeping, I don’t deserve the good self-care, right?
As important as good self-care has become to me, I fell into the same not-awesome behavioral pattern that led me to really thinking about self-care in the first place all those years ago: guilt for taking the time to care for myself when I had so many other things to do, shame about wanting to do the self-care things, feelings of failure. Rinse and repeat all the jerkiness until miserable.
I can’t lie, it has been rough.
At some point I decided to stop being such a jerk, and I started doing nice things for myself again. Without berating myself for being a failure at everything, I got myself some tea for my sore throat; I wore my new wig and put on my favorite lipstick.
From the start of this series, one of the things I have continued repeating is that whatever you are doing for self-care, it counts. You are doing it. It might be somewhere on the spectrum between HOORAY I PUT CLEAN PANTS ON TODAY and "I just banged out the most glamorous makeup I have ever seen." It might be achieving that yoga pose you’ve been working on.
You are doing it. But sometimes it’s going to be hard.
Given my personal demons, that feeling went inward and I felt like I was failing my editor and everyone else at xoJane who has made me feel welcome. I felt like I was failing the people who come here for community and solidarity -- and like I was probably about to give the folks who come to tell me how badly I’m doing a reason to celebrate.
To be perfectly honest, I had some thoughts about quitting it all and telling my publisher that the book might be a no go as obviously I suck at self-care and should stop.
I sat down and took some time to chill out and think about it.
What I forgot because of my anxiety was the entire reason I’ve done this work, why I have thought about it and struggled with it. I forgot why I decided to write this series and what is really important to me about doing this work both personally and publicly:
- I am precious.
- I am worth being treated magnificently.
- You are precious.
- You are worth being treated magnificently.
Weeks like I’ve been having lately are why I believe so whole heartedly that self-care is important and why talking about it in an accessible way for people is part of the driving force behind some of my work. I have resumed doing a lot of the things I have talked about in this series. I have been taking great care of my skin; I snagged myself a couple of little treats. I’m treating myself like the greatest girlfriend ever.
The things I do for self-care may not be your jam and that’s fine. Do what is good for you. If that means you’re in front of your computer doing yoga or going for a windy walk, that's awesome. Maybe you’re cuddling up with someone and zoning out for a few hours.
We’ve discussed the pressure other people put on us to self-care in a particular way, or the lengths people can go to in order to remind us that we don’t deserve to engage in self-care in whatever way we see fit. Right now I want y’all to use me as your example of how not to treat yourself in regard to self-care. Don’t deny yourself when your thought processes are going sideways or other folks judgments are digging their way in.
Now, let’s level up.
I want all of you to hold on to your methods of self-care and deploy them as you need them. I don’t want any of you to feel the way I’ve been feeling.
For those of us who are marginalized for however many intersecting reasons, this is going to be more difficult. That said, I believe you can and are doing it magnificently. How regularly you engage in self-care, or if you call it it treating yourself, or if it is something you are doing with the guidance of your therapist, or if the way you can do this is to be presentable for job interviews doesn’t matter to me because I’m not here to police how you are getting it done.
Just get it done.
Wear your favorite lipstick, paint your nails, master the frog pose, learn how to hit that Shmoney dance, watch stupid videos on YouTube, and laugh until you pee. Do the things that help improve the quality of your life because you deserve it, no matter what.
If you take nothing else from this series please take this. Regardless of how you feel about me personally or my work, if you struggle with self-care or not this is what is the most important thing.
You deserve care. No matter what your situation or circumstances are. You deserve to treat yourself well in whatever ways work for you.
As for me, I’m feeling better. I made a personal dream come true and have procured an awesome set of onesie pajamas; I remember that I deserve to be silly because it makes me happy. If I can do it, you can do it.
Coming up soon, I want to talk about some more hard stuff -- surviving the holidays, ideas for things you can ask for when gift giving is a thing, and using self-care to be of service to others.
Now, how are you? There have been some of you going through some serious stuff, deaths, and emergencies. Are you okay? I’ve been thinking about you.
If you are okay to do so, please check in and let us know if you’re all right.