Self-Care (ugh, THAT word)
I broke, like a didn't-know-how-to-fix-myself kinda broken, a few months ago now. I am not completely out of the woods, but I am significantly better than I was. My reason for telling you this is that I reached the point of no return and, from that place, I had a decision to make.
I could continue broken, or I could look at myself and do myself a care plan - I only half joke in saying this. I have written many a care plan for Alex over the years, and naturally we all, in relationships from parenting to friendships to managing different people, inaudibly write certain care plans in our heads. We know how the other person in the relationship functions, we manage and accommodate this by various means to support and enable them and be their friend/partner/parent/sibling etc. How was I to put this structure in place for myself? Given that I had never really afforded it much thought. How could I? Hamster-wheeling it through life was a fine art, and self-neglect made it all possible! Until the ball broke and I flew out. Ouch!
After taking some very necessary and practical steps - contacting the Dr, taking anti-depressants, I surfaced enough to contemplate how I was to keep doing my life whilst nothing in my life changed. I read a quote the other day:
The only thing in your control is your actions, emotions are not easy to tame...' Vinny Shoreman (go find him for a shit whack of inspiration on insta.)
I began taking action towards supporting myself, this is the only way to deal with anything in life. EVER.
There exists within us, a beautiful, untouchable, knowing. A silence, an answer, a support, a strength. Whether you are religious/spiritual or not, this element in us is there. I am of the belief that when life throws something at you, you have to go deeper. You have to dive, and dive DEEP. I was forced to reassess my actions/my doing and my life through ‘what happened there then?!’ eyes. I realised my quiet voice, my knowing, my inner untouchable part of me, my strength, was so muted through lack of listening to myself and what I may need (god forbid I looked at that and my world fell down as I confronted goodness knows what below the surface), that despite its vies for attention, I couldn’t hear it.
One of the answers to coping with any situation is to get back in touch with that part of you. It is easier than you think, it takes a bit of effort, but it is there, ready and waiting.
When tragedy strikes, you have options – crumble or rise. The former, a natural response, and I have crumbled time-after-time but the latter takes grit, is more tiring and more rewarding than you could ever imagine. But it takes courage. You may not feel you have courage, and this is something we all need to cultivate by allowing it to rise from the sacred space we cannot see that resides in us all. Courage exists within you.
It’s like an inner magnet, if we allow this part of us to rise, the rest will follow. It doesn’t mean your life will suddenly evaporate into a happily ever after fairytale, neither does it mean that you will instantly become Mary Poppins (and please don’t try and fly with an umbrella, you WILL die), it does mean that as you practise this, your inner strength reaches upwards and outwards towards guiding and supporting you in the face of adversity. It gets buried under so much life-debris, under traumas, under what our parents/friends/siblings/life/boss did to us, but it never ever leaves, it is constant and present and there for us to draw on.
Meditation is a one obvious and great way of accessing this part of us. Letting go is a powerful way of shedding ourselves of the unnesessary and unwanted. Very early on after Alex’s accident – my sister said to me ‘pick your battles’. This piece of advice has carried me on many an occasion. It’s like prioritising - putting things in a more organised fashion amongst the chaos. I would ask mysef the question – 'do I need to fight this one?’ This ‘fight’ might be a comment I was ruminating over that bothered me or a meeting I needed to attend for Alex. It helped me drop things I didn’t need to take with me.
I will be exploring my learning, my experience and my new found implemented ways of coping. Taking care of ourselves, knowing what is right for our well-being and allowing ourselves to hear this under the vast ampunt of debris life shovels on top of our inner knowing, is integral to coping.
I am setting up part of my website devoted to 5-minute acts of self care and ideas of looking after ourselves. Its for all those short of time and for carers who don't have, or give themselves, time for themselves!
I really hope 5 minutes is something you will prioritise – it’s manageable, it’s essential!