Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare. – Audre Lorde
I read that quote recently and it resonated for two reasons.
First, I have been rigid about self-care as I try to repair my health these past months. As I taper off of prednisone I need eight hours of sleep to stay sane during the day. So I turn off my devices, take my time washing up and cover myself in soft-smelling lotions, I burn candles and tuck myself in on my new mattress. This is not a luxury. This is what gets me through the day.
Second, I have always been made uncomfortable with the way we lionize people who wear themselves out for other people. I often hear this from teenagers: “My mom is a hero because she sacrifices everything for us.” We also hear it about teachers: the “best” are the ones who sacrifice the most, who work the latest, who bring the greatest amount of papers home with them.
While I suppose this is noble in its way, when we make it the only model for how to be a woman or teacher or mom we encourage people – mostly women – to avoid self-care and to feel crummy. There is a middle ground in which we care for others and care for ourselves, but in order to find it we might need to ignore the voices that tell us to wear ourselves out
I still have big dreams of changing the world, or doing great things, of leaving my mark. I also have dreams of enjoying life with my family and friends. I need to care for myself in order to do this. I will not be bullied into bullying myself, I will not spend my energy on anything less than the most worthy causes. I will make sure I do whatever I need to in order to be there for the people whom I love.
My loved ones want the best for me and they want the best of me. I can give them my best when I have taken care of myself.
How do you care for yourself? Do you see this as a radical act?