The waambulance is on the way

I remember the first time I made a decision to do something for myself and my Fibromyalgia. “Self-care” my therapist called it. Giddily I took a nap with my new body pillow, a great way to be able to lay on my side but avoid the pain of pressure caused by my knees being one on top of the other, and the ache that came with no support for my upper arm and shoulder.

It sounds so simple, this kindness to myself. Somehow gravity had joined in the efforts of my Fibro to make even resting more painful, and I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.

Getting a pedicure had been my biggest idea previously for Self-Care, or buying higher quality dark chocolate. But doing something that would directly influence my constant companion in a positive way? This was a new thought! When Invisible even to yourself, it doesn’t come naturally to pay attention to your body enough to think that far. Especially if the main thing you’re feeling toward yourself comes with a big boo-boo lip.

I refuse to admit how many years I lived this way–ignoring my frailties (except for pouting), rather than working toward a nice cushy pillow between our knees. (Okay, decades. Close enough.) It turns out that when I started to See myself I realized how many areas need Self-Care besides  my toes. To name a few:

My Mental/Emotional self,

My Physical self,

My Spiritual self.

I tend to hang out in the Mental/Emotional party room, trying to pick up pointers on how to stay out of the way of oncoming trains, or to accept and love myself flaws and all, yet I need to work on the rest.

While I was perusing the interweb, I found a simple yet profound explanation of these areas on the University of Texas at Dallas student counseling site. I may not know the Texas Two Step, but at 62 I find I’m still a student at this whole life thing.

Here’s their introduction:

Self-care is a necessary and vital part of maintaining emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. It’s more than an occasional manicure or special treat. Self-care is a way of living each day incorporating behaviors that help you feel refreshed, replenish your motivation and help you grow as a person. Building reliable self-care habits now can affect your quality of life now and in the future.

A good way to start is to take an honest look at what you’re doing to manage every day stress. Are your close relationships and daily activities adding to your sense of overall stress? If so, take small, realistic steps toward change to help make a significant difference in your quality of life.

 

Like anything else it takes practice. Here’s the rest of the article listing ideas.

I will do this for myself today: while doing chores I don’t particularly want to do I’ll listen to an audiobook. (I love to read, so I’m thinking this will make the time pass more quickly and pleasantly. Then I won’t be super grumpy after. I hope. I’ll let you know.)

The BringYourOwnBeverage conversation: what area of your own life is the most difficult to practice self-care? What’s one small thing you could introduce to your day to deal with the stress of this area?

 

 

 

 

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Oncoming trains

I sat in my car, trembling head to toe. I’d just come from an uncomfortable coffee date. You may have heard of “fight, flight or freeze”? I’m a big-time fan of fleeing and freezing, rather like a small child closes their eyes and thinks we can’t see them if they can’t see us.

In my own small child days I would either duck my head and go to my closet and look at books or play with dolls, or when old enough, flee to the park on our block. When my parents were having one of their nobody-wins, all-out, angry, loud arguments, I would head anywhere to keep from feeling the rumbling emotions that grew from the out-of-control fear those arguments fed into me.

I remember my mother shoving the tall chest of drawers from the upstairs hallway into the opening at the top of the stairs, then returning to the yelling match. When questioned she would say it was to stop our father from coming upstairs where we children were in bed. But how, I wondered, would a chest of drawers that my mother could move keep my fireman father away? And what would happen if he did get upstairs? A constant underlying fear ran through me, a sense that I had no control permeated my being, following me through most of my adult years.

That day in the car I called two friends who are faithful to remind me of the Truth–the kind of friends one needs when recovering from a lifetime of freezing in fear. Suddenly I could see that small child part of me cowering in the corner, feeling raw and powerless. My heart softened toward her. It’s okay, I’m here for you now. I’m going to do my best to stop leaving you in front of oncoming trains. That’s my job, I told her. I’ll keep you safe.

Slowly I felt the pounding of my heart and the dizziness in my head abate. I’M in charge of my own safety. I turned the idea over in my head. I don’t have to be at the mercy of others any more.

When we come from early trauma–and even sometimes when we don’t–it’s easy to hand over the control to others. When we were children we may have felt at the mercy of the grown-ups in our lives. Maybe they didn’t protect us as they should have. It’s easy to carry this lie in our bones into adulthood. But now we have a choice. We can choose to stand passively on the tracks watching the oncoming train, or we can decide to choose actively for our own mental and physical health.

I will do this for myself today: keep a sharp lookout for oncoming large vehicles of all kinds. Sometimes these are people I know, and sometimes these are situations I know are unhealthy.

The BringYourOwnBeverage conversation: What places in your own life do you know you’re leaving yourself in the path of a train with unhealthy people or situations? How can you protect yourself?