I started writing this post with the intention for it to be part of the July Self-Care Retreat, but as I kept writing it became something more.
Indulge me just a little.
You would think I would be an expert in self-care by now. After all, that is why I quit my job last December. To devote all my time to take care of myself so I can recover. My self-care when I started out was reading, scrapbooking, writing (oodles of it), going to the movies, shopping, spending time with friends as I was able, sitting on the patio and enjoying the sun, painting my nails (yes, I need a pretty pretty now and then), yoga, and interval runs. However, with each new challenge thrown into my lap since comes a firestorm of emotions within. Anger, sadness, fear, doubt, grief.
I once posted on Facebook that when we go through years of being misdiagnosed then finally get on the right track it is like peeling an onion. You take off one layer and there is another one waiting. I feel like I have an onion that doubles every time I peel back a layer. Adrenal fatigue. Multiple food allergies. Leaky gut. Sjogren’s Syndrome. More allergies.
Through it all, I do what I feel I need to do each day to take care of myself. Put off doing chores because I feel like crap and go to a movie instead? Yes. Read a book instead of vacuum because I have no energy? Yes. It’s the Spoon Theory at work. There are things I have to do each day: shower, floss, brush my teeth (up to four times a day), and cook dinner. Those tasks are spoons that are spoken for as soon as I wake up. The rest of the household tasks and exercise depends on how many spoons I have left. If those are all the spoons I have for the day, then the rest of my day is spent doing whatever doesn’t take much energy.
Sjögren’s is taking a toll on me. I still fatigue easily if I’m not careful. It’s tough reminding myself that I’m not simply being lazy. I’m not lazy. It’s tough looking at the mess that sometimes grows around me and remind myself tomorrow is another day. Even if tomorrow turns out to be like today.
The baby thing is still living in my head. I can’t seem to shake it. At least not right now. It’s reminding me of a lesson from my years in martial arts that no matter how much I think I know, I know nothing. It’s also teaching me a new lesson.
We need to love ourselves. I’m not talking about loving who we are: strong, independent, witty, talented, etc. It’s loving who we are how we are in each moment. Broken, scarred, flawed. I have to love the me riddled with health problems, may never have children no matter how much I may want them, and functions on a how-do-I-feel-right-now basis.
It’s harder than it sounds. Just yesterday I lamented out loud, “I hate being sick.” A far cry from self-loathing and yes, I’m allowed to have feelings and express them. But I beat myself up for even saying it. That’s not loving myself.
I have to allow myself my feelings without judging myself and move on. Sound weird? Maybe. But we don’t want others to judge us. Why is it okay for us to judge ourselves? Why is it okay for us to love ourselves only when we feel we are perfect or only for those traits that we feel are good? We can love others unconditionally, but not ourselves.
This is work I do every day. Accept and love me for the sick me I am right now as much as I accepted and loved the healthy me.