take care of yourself
Self care is an idea that has often inspired guilt, shame, and overwhelm in my life.
I grew up in a religious environment that taught
me to believe the self was
the enemy — the ultimate hurdling block between me and God (“happiness”). I was supposed to give up myself, and give it to God and others, without any direction on how to do this, or at least any
way to do this without being overwhelmed with disgust with myself. I was taught I wasn’t worthy of God’s love and that I should live my life with that knowledge, with a “gratitude” that even though I was despicable, God loved me anyway. This is a very dangerous way to think,
this sort of self-awareness
can and will affect how you “let” people treat you and
it removes all tenderness, grace, and forgiveness to oneself. There wasn’t any acknowledgement that environment and culture teach a lot of untrue and dangerous things about certain groups, particularly women and young women, and how the reasons you feel bad about yourself are truly not your fault, but ideas that have been taught to you since birth.
Later on after I left that way of thinking, I was still wary of self love and self care. It made me feel inadequate. “Everyone is beautiful” rhetoric can only go so far, particularly in a world where
daily experience — and
the systems that support
it — exercise the exact opposite. It took me a while to understand my aversion to self-love, until I realized that I wanted confirmation that it wasn’t my “silly, stupid, woman-brain” creating these feelings, but rather the very real system of misogyny. I heard once that self care was an action, not a final place of being and that really shook me. Self care and self love are actions you can perform and often times they will change how you feel, but if you don’t
feel it that’s okay too. I also had to remember that even though I “officially” left that way of thinking, that it didn’t mean I was going to unlearn
- Smart Fubara