“What are you doing for you?” It was Ben’s caseworker checking in.
I was ashamed.
I didn’t have an answer. I know I should be taking care of myself, but…it just seems like one more item on an overwhelming to-do list.
Sometimes, lately at least, taking care of myself feels like a burden.
It means something else doesn’t get done.
It means that the piece of me that I had earmarked for someone or something else has to be set aside.
It means one more thing to squeeze into my day.
It means guilt because I have put myself aside.
Can I win?
If I do this instead of that, am I really better off?
I have long advocated for self-care, but truth be told, self-care is the first thing to fly out the window when stuff gets chaotic…and chaotic happens a lot around here.
Instead of doing something for myself I stuff a couple of cookies in my face.
Instead of doing something for myself I sit on the toilet for an extra 57 seconds to scan my phone.
Instead of bothering to try, and just get interrupted, I skip doing something just for me for days at a time. Sometimes weeks.
Funny, it didn’t bother me until she mentioned it.
I spread this load of should all over the place, and that makes everything, and I do mean everything worse.
But maybe I can back that train up.
If I can’t squeeze in something to do for myself, can I manage some self compassion?
Kristen Neff (I haven’t read her book, but she defined self-compassion, which absolutely deserves a shout-out!) identified 3 parts of self-compassion; self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
In other words, do unto yourself as you would do to others…
If I look at my situation through a lens of self-compassion, my shoulds magically clean themselves up.
The guilt I felt over my failure to make time for myself abates a bit. The burden of trying to be all things to all people lightens when viewed in light of my humanity, with some self-kindness and a dash of mindfulness.
If a friend of mine spilled her guts and they looked about like mine do right now, wouldn’t I tell her she’s enough? That it’s okay to put herself aside, as long as it isn’t for too long? I’d probably suggest that she seize any opportunity that arose to relax and enjoy some quiet, but until then… I would assure her that she’s going to be okay.
Because she will.