The phrase is often used to express pampering, bodywork, wine in a bathtub. ‘Me time’, no kids, no partners, no responsibilities. It’s so synonymous with these things, it’s almost hard to think of it in another way. But all the massages in the world won’t fix your life if you don’t know how to care for your inner self.
When we truly care for ourselves, we take the time to explore and learn about our deepest layers. We can articulate who we are and what we really want, what our soul needs. There’s such power in this knowing, being able to say from the heart “My work is my legacy” when it may currently be frustrating or missing meaning; or “I want relationships built on respect and fundamental honesty” when we are stuck in patterns of codependency. How we eventually achieve these pursuits isn’t always knowable, and it often unfolds in ways we would never expect. But knowing ourselves and caring for our own well being is a north star and an unwavering support.
It sounds so simple, and living in the Bay Area, I’m more acquainted than many with personal development, healing modalities, and ‘healers’ themselves (topic for a whole ‘nother post) but I don’t know if I’ve ever really cared for myself, not for any meaningful period of time. I’ve spent most of my life stressing about getting by and pleasing others — my parents, my bosses, my partners, my friends. But the person who always worries about the opinions of others can never really share themselves. Hell, they can hardly know themselves. So the person others know is often a mask hiding a mystery and we all go around and around and suddenly wake up old and bewildered and unknown.
My new self-care endeavor is to treat myself as if I want myself, my true self, to be known and to flourish. It’s actually my one job. I can’t change other people no matter how hard I try to anticipate their needs or be perfect around them. I’m so tired of the facade. I want to stand firmly on my own ground, vulnerable in my imperfections, and smile at my heart. I want to hold my dreams up and say LET’S F’ING DO THIS. I want to live in a world of people doing that work, who have pulled back the layers and explored their own psyche, who can approach relationships with the ability to love and be loved because they’ve practiced it on themselves.
I put my hands on my heart, take a long, slow, luxurious deep breath. I lower my critical stare and look at my spirit with the curiosity of a beautifully wrapped package that came in the mail. I’m discovering and rediscovering myself — taking time off of alcohol and being more discerning with my social life, listening to how my body wants to move (running, of all things and working on regaining flexibility), spending glorious days dancing through my to-do list with a very unexpected joy.
There is so much possibility for the person who moves through life with care — for their work, for others, and most of all, for themselves. May you tap into this possibility, and may we all.