Radical self-care. You will see me writing on this concept over and over again. I want to ooze the importance of self-care with my existence. I want to be contagious in my liberation to others. Culturally as women, we are trained early on to place our desires on the back burner to better care for those around us. It is therefore a revolutionary act when we move even momentarily from the demands of those outside of ourselves (the other) inward. Caring for others can absolutely bring a wonderful sense of fulfillment and joy, however it requires a delicate balance and self-awareness. It is through these two concepts we can prevent the slip into depletion.
Finding balance depends upon our inherent constitutions, stressors with us in the now, our immediate health and our ability to know ourselves and our own needs/desires. Dr. Julie Von, fertility expert, has taught women through an exercise she calls “Find Your Pillars” how to identify the things in our lives that help hold us up (i.e., keep us sane). Once we have identified the parts of our lives that fuel the soul, the next trick is learning how to consistently make them a priority. For me, I know I need to dance, practice yin/meditation, and have time in nature; however, despite this intellectual knowledge of my pillars, I let things get in the way.
Currently there are around one million reasons each week that explain why I cannot take proper care of myself. My personal favorites are guilt and too busy. My own child would like to be next to me 100% of everyday. Familiar to many of us loving Moms, is the heart wrenching tearful departure that comes from separating from our child, often regardless of their age. As an empathetic mother, we share this pain when we part. The natural maternal empathy is beautiful, however a disconnect happens when that awareness of other turns to guilt. Though utterly unfounded, guilt strikes through tendrils of the unconscious notions of what a woman “should” be doing with her time and what a mother is. This is an area worth exploring in oneself as it houses many obstacles to being able to fully step into balance.
Another great source of my barrier to self-care is time. I mean the fact that I work two jobs and one of those jobs is running a busy practice on my own clearly validates the too busy, right? Despite my best intentions, I sometimes overdo it. And, if I let my own care slide, sometimes too busy gives birth to too tired. And then, cue the check engine light!
Like any vehicle, each of us has a dashboard with indicators of how we are doing both physically and emotionally. The flashing of my check engine light looks like this on the emotional plane: A feeling of being near tears, mild irritability, resentment towards my husband, hypersensitivity and a sense of being overwhelmed. (In many ways, this warning phase feels similar to PMS.) After choosing to ignore these softer signs, I can begin to tip into serious engine damage. On the physical plane my adrenal glands begin pumping out epinephrine to keep up with the demands I am putting on myself. Here I can sense rage, despair, and rampant irritability. The key to preventing this type of damage is early recognition. Also, at a deeper level, I’ve had to work hard with a coach to heal the fun trans-generational pattern of worn-out, angry women. Though all of them amazing and utterly justified in their anger, it is not how I choose to live my lifetime.
As much as I’d love to be that infallible, magical superhero version of a mother that our culture has perpetuated to make all Mom’s feel inadequate, I’m not. I am simply a human being that has her own needs. So as I wave goodbye to my son to go have my hour of me time and the guilt comes, I remind myself of the miserable version of me I become when I don’t take care of myself. I remind myself that self-care is prerequisite to the function of my higher intuition. Then, it becomes a simple and clear choice and my heart lifts.