This Is How I Roll: What Looks Selfish Is Actually Self-Care (Part 2)

If you haven’t gotten a chance to look at Part 1, do that first. This will all make a lot more sense (Part 1 is basically a grocery list of my day to day considerations since developing CRPS).

I had a great conversation recently with a friend whose health troubles are also not immediately obvious to the untrained eye. She said to me that it’s hard when you look “normal”, when there aren’t crutches or boots, braces, or casts to cue those around you into the very real fact that you’re hurting. She was speaking my language. And for months it was so hard; I was constantly explaining myself to others (seriously trying to communicate all twenty-two of the above points so Annie Acquaintance wouldn’t be disappointed in me for turning down multiple invitations to attend essential oils parties on Friday nights when the stress of the week, the demands of my treatment are finally catching up to me and all I want is to crash on my couch in my pajamas with my TENS Unit, The Office, and my cats).

But now I’m finding empowerment in a better understanding of myself, in recognizing what I need (and don’t) and being willing to speak up so that I can be sure to get it or prevent it. Sometimes I worry that all of this makes me sound so self-absorbed, that maybe I’m selfish because I value being alone and should instead be Doing More For My Community Now. But mostly that worry has diminished, and mostly I’m confident in my personal choices because my husband and I spent nine months not listening to what we needed in the midst of this strange diagnosis and we paid for it. Long-term, the game plan is that eventually, in the fuller context of a life, the attention to the above twenty-two details can lessen and that all of this will pay off–i.e., Doing More For My Community. The proverbial image of the oxygen mask applies here. When an airplane loses cabin pressure, a person can do more good for those around her, only if her own oxygen mask is secured first.

This process of hurt and healing has taught me how to love myself, how to show kindness to my body, how to appreciate all it’s been through and is capable of, and how I’m ill-equipped to care for others if I neglect my spiritual and physical health. Self-care takes practice. In many ways, it is antithetic to our very culture, both in a general sense and a personal one. My parents were both raised by military people. In our house, what was modeled was the art of  multitasking, and what was taught was how to be busy, to plan effectively, to work hard, and to put others first. Acknowledging our limits and practicing TRUE self-care (which, I’ve learned, doesn’t necessarily mean binge watching Downton Abbey and binge eating Ben & Jerry’s) can sometimes be perceived as weakness, as lesser, as somehow sad or unfortunate or excessive. Bump that, friends.

In case you can’t tell, I am passionate about this journey and thankful for the revelations I’ve had due to circumstances beyond my control. If not for all of this, I’d probably still be overbooked and exhausted, uncomfortable with quiet, and disconnected from my own well being.

It’s good to talk about this stuff. So, in the spirit of talking, how do you practice self-care? What does self-compassion look like in your life?

5 Comments Add yours

  1. This is interesting — one of my favorite people, a woman half my age, is very poor at self-care (also comes from a military background.) It’s ESSENTIAL.

    The culture at large insists on: 1) being REAL friendly all the time (exhausting even if you’re 100% healthy); 2) insists on pretending everything is JUST FINE when it’s not (ooooh, being publicly vulnerable is tough); 3) insists on women, esp. sucking up our pain so as not to force others into attention and compassion (always expected of us); 4) remaining “productive” when we are ill or exhausted and need to withdraw.

    Good luck with this. You know what you need.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You summed it all up perfectly! Would you like to write a guest blog about that? (I’m half joking because you don’t seem to need the guest blogger work haha). But if you wanted to, that would be amazing.

      Seriously, you’re exactly right. I’m not sure if it’s completely unwise, but I find myself desperately wanting truth and honesty. I’ve never had a lot of patience for small talk but the vulnerability I’ve experienced in sharing about CRPS is just wild. I want to talk about it because I want others to benefit from reading about an honest experience. I’m hoping it helps someone out there, whether they have CRPS or not.

      Thank you so much for your feedback.

      Like

      1. Maybe?

        I think being radically candid is the way to go. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You just let me know. 🙂 It would be an honor.

        I think that what you started in the comments section needs to be heard/read, whether here or elsewhere!

        Like

      3. Thanks! Feel free to email me to discuss

        Like

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