I came across a quote recently that really struck a chord for me.
‘If you find yourself having to regularly indulge in CONSUMER self-care, it's because you are disconnected from ACTUAL self-care, which has very little to do with 'treating yourself' and a whole lot to do with parenting yourself and making choices for your long-term wellbeing.’
These words were penned by Brianna Wiest, an American writer and speaker, who has summed up succinctly in them what I have now come to think of as first and second stage self-care.
Brianna’s words really helped to bring into focus something about self-care which I could see, but a little hazily. Clarifying and illuminating what had been a somewhat dimly lit understanding.
When we are new to the idea of self-care, when it feels as foreign to us as sitting in a crowded room filled with people speaking in a language we have never heard before, when Recovery is a concept we have just discovered, our ideas around self-care are, of necessity, simplistic.
They involve things like being willing to spend a few dollars on ourselves. Being willing to take ourselves to a cafe for a coffee. Simplistic things that in many ways speak more to the lack in our lives, the devaluing of self that has occurred around abuse, the I’m-not-important-enough-for-anyone-to-spend-money-on-me feeling that is firmly tied in to the abuse we have experienced.
But this first stage self-care is a temporary place for us to visit, a kind of scaffolding that we need to build around our hearts while we are emerging from abuse, while we are learning what false beliefs we have accepted and allowed to influence our thinking, while we are recovering, and rebuilding our lives.
But it’s not our permanent home.
It is when we begin to see how un-nurtured our heart is that we begin to grasp how much deeper self-care is. That it’s not something we tack on at the end of a busy day to balance out all the ways we have pushed ourselves around, done things that injure our souls, spoken harshly to ourselves, shown ourselves complete disdain.
Self-care - the true self-care we are striving for, is not about buying ourselves ‘things’ to make up for our unkindness, our lack of kindness or the failure of our kindness. It’s not a pendulum swing in the other direction to right wrongs - it speaks to the core of rebalancing our lives IN THE RIGHT ORDER.
It is about waking up in the morning and considering what we need.
A healthy breakfast?
Some time alone?
Some time with trusted friends?
To go to the shops to buy supplements or medications that keep us well?
To read or research an issue that we are thinking about?
It is about all through the day making choices, big and small, that honour our own souls, that address our own needs as people of worth and significance, listening to and accepting feedback and focusing on learning and growing, speaking to ourselves not just with kindness but with an understanding that we are growing beings.
In short, being loving, wise and kind parents to ourselves.
First stage self-care is not wrong or bad - but alone it is not enough to rebuild our lives.
We need it to learn, but we need to see it for what it is and then grow past the need to just get ourselves stuff to feel good after we’ve been neglectful.
In second stage self-care we hold ourselves differently. We have brought into harmony our needs and the needs of others around us. We cease compensating ourselves for our earlier mistakes and instead act from a place of accepting our boundaries and respecting our own needs.
Second stage self-care is being the parent to ourselves and showing ourselves the deep and unconditional love our souls have always craved. And then doing it again tomorrow.
♥ ~ Sue
Sue Parry-Jones is a trained counsellor, a social worker and survivor of abuse. The content of the blog is both personal and sound. The words are relate-able and widely appealing to those struggling with survival from abuse in their own lives. More and more we are appreciating in our society that abuse affects a number of people’s lives and as more people are beginning to openly discuss what they have endured, so there is a huge need for encouragement and hope in the form of texts that deliver clear and concise yet real input. THe words shared here are honest, real and heart-felt.