It’s a funny word, self-care. I hear it and I think of spa days, wind chimes, soft music while somebody is giving my shoulders a good rub, face masks and falling asleep on the treatment room table.
I don’t really have the money for that. Food and bills I can justify. Train tickets, obviously. Books. Jiu Jitsu. Does exercise count towards caring for oneself? Because I do plenty of that.
For the past month or so, self-care has been the same item on my weekly agenda, marked both V for Value and U for Urgent. Every week, I put a tick under D (for Done) thinking of activities that I consider self-indulgent but went ahead with, because of course, I’m taking care of myself, I’m not irresponsible. Even when those activities drained me of my energy, I still did them, thinking how fun it is, how well I’m doing.
Then I strained my wrist. I might have pulled a ligament, I may have damaged a tendon, but it’s not swelling and it turns almost every way it’s supposed to, so there’s no need for the doctor. Is there? Is there? I can throw a brace on and carry on as usual, right?
If the one and only Jiu Jitsu session I attempted is any indication, no, I cannot.
Morning after. It’s the weekend. I get up and test my wrist, experimentally. The pain cuts through my sleepiness and I stumble out of bed, looking for my brace. It’s going to be one of those days.
I dilly-dally, see-sawing between getting dressed and going to train, and going for a run and focusing on work. One I am only 60% sure I can do. The other, I am almost certain I won’t do at all. I look at my agenda and self-care glares at me accusingly. What is self-care? Going out to spend time with other people, even if it means hurting myself even more. Even if I feel as though I’ve been ran over by a train? Or do I stay in and do work?
I opt for the second and then spend the rest of the day marinating in self-loathing. I can’t focus. My movements are heavy and strained, even when I go out for a quick run. Not even the cold air or the puddles I step in can blast away the cobwebs. When I come back home, I’m so tired I barely have the energy for a shower before collapsing on the couch.
For someone who thrives on activity, who relies on their own manic energy to carry them forward, this is un-fucking-acceptable. There’s things to do. Emails to write. Plans to make. And I can’t be arsed to do any of them? This is ridiculous.
You know what was more ridiculous, though? I’d been running around all week, barely taking a break, and I worked so hard despite an injury… and I won’t take a few days to give myself a rest? I won’t even accept that maybe I do need to “Netflix and chill” for a bit? What, am I exempt from the law of entropy? Did I discover some source of permanent energy without realizing?
To quote Sugar, all self-loathing has arrogance in its core. We hate ourselves because we think we are better than everybody else.
Self-care is hard, not just because we have to be nice to ourselves, we have to be nice to ourselves while every fiber of our being screams that we don’t deserve it.