Self Care is a Verb

Self Care is a Verb! I was in self care central yesterday. Called in sick because my body is yelling at me after moving, and not stopping with the organizing, and so yesterday I listened to my body and said, yes, I will be kind to us. Yes, I will use my sick hours as I’m earning them again. Yes, I will sit in the softest place in my world for most of the day. Yes, I will do the simple things that make this more of a home when I have to get up and move because even the pressure of the soft bed is aggravating my pain today. I will do whatever my body asks.

After my transformative experience at camp with the insight regarding my body and Fibromyalgia being part of my godness (thanks to Sonya Renee), I am striving to listen to my body more and find where Fibro has something to show or teach me. Radical self care is definitely something I am learning because of the condition. And not taking on other people’s pain is the other.

While it is my ethical stance that I be conscious of how I treat people, it’s not my place to take responsibility for how other people feel. As an empath I need to learn how to let other people’s pain move through me, transmute it through compassion, and send it back out again rather than carry it in my heart and my body. Like the practice of Tonglen. Seems like I should have learned this lesson by now, but somehow my empathy is the one part of me I keep pushing to the background, even though it is such a huge part of how I experience the world. It doesn’t go away just because I try to ignore it.

Part of why I can’t live with my son and his adoptive parents is because I can feel all their feels and then I start doing things because I want them to be happier rather than what will make me happy, and I beat myself up when I think I’m letting them down, and then I try to hide from All The Feels everywhere, theirs and mine. Ironically, my empathy gets in the way of a good, healthy connection, which I strongly desire with them.
We’re in this together for the rest of our lives. I desire for our connection to be vibrant and loving and modelling all the best about family and community for our son. We lost our way for a bit in the midst of both the minutiae and intensity of daily life. All of us have intense life stuff going on beyond the complexity of this experience of sharing a child. We have to acknowledge that it was asking a lot of ourselves to try to manage it all under one roof with our toddler simultaneously demanding someone’s attention every minute he’s awake.

It is my empathy that brought me to this special family (because I could do something to alleviate Jen’s suffering around not having a child of her own) and it is also my empathy getting in my way of my ability to maintain a positive and vibrant connection with her. Moving into this apartment is a radical act of self care that benefits both myself and the family. I will connect better when I’m not trying to manage everyone else’s feelings all the time. Managing my own stuff (from birth mother feelings to chronic illness), as well as my partner’s, is taking my full capacity. I’ve learned through our experiment that I simply don’t have room to hold space for people other than myself and my partner every day. And that’s ok. The presence I bring and space I can hold will be vastly improved when I do connect with others because I am giving myself this spaciousness in my home life.

This mid-life transition is about letting go of the role/archetype of the mother, letting go of being the nurturer of others. At least for the time being. It’s time to nurture my creativity – my writing and my art. It’s time to live the life I’ve always dreamed possible after full time mothering came to its inevitable end. I’ve been waiting for this moment for more than 20 years, my entire adult life.

Why aren’t I more excited?

I suppose the time and space I have for self inquiry will illuminate that answer and so many others I have about identity and purpose now that I live in an empty nest. The point for today is that I learned that self-care is a verb, an action that must be taken for my well being.

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