Can we talk about self-care for a minute? I’m not a fan of it – the term, I mean. When I think of something else to call it, I’ll let you know – I’m also totally open to suggestions, so feel free to submit. As per usual, the idea of self-care has been hijacked by marketing teams everywhere and ruined; branding it as bubble baths, painted toes and beach vacations. Bullshit. I did something this week that was scary and hard. Also, it was the right thing to do. The greatest, most important acts of self-care I have ever committed are not pretty, are not pampering, and do not leave me refreshed and ready to take on the world. In fact, often they result in swollen eyes, smelly pits, wobbly legs and a period of undetermined recovery time where I have to re-evaluate and analyze. For me, the most radically kind and nurturing thing I could ever bestow on myself is to say, in a variety of ways that are not always pretty, “I will not leave you.” Therefore, my most critical acts of self-care are when I stand in my worth, my wholeness as a human and maintain the integrity of who I claim to be; even when it is unpopular, even when it involves saying the hardest thing, and even when it feels wrong, but is so right.
On the flip side, self-care is also grace. Grace for when you stayed quiet and didn’t want to, or took seemingly far too long to realize what was in your best interest, or just didn’t know better. Because grace is also, “I will not leave you.”
I talk in Episode 18 about “being” with intention. And at the time of recording, I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant, and I’m certain it is an ever-evolving concept, but one thing I keep coming back to is really leaning into the trust I have in myself, in my knowing; lessening the disconnect between what I think and what I say and what I do. I lost that trust and by extension a great deal of autonomy for a very long time. I wrote a bit about it in my unlikely-to-see-the-light-of-day-still-unfinished-probably-will-never-be-finished book. And I’m going to leave that passage right here just in case someone else feels a bit untethered from themselves.
A bit of context: I’m driving to my IVF Doctor’s appointment in Marin County, California and I’m really new to the area.
So, I’m on the road and have no clue where I’m going. I’m irritated and anxious and scared — times one thousand. The total reliance on my mobile navigation system felt like the heaviest of burdens; a shining beacon of my inability to rely on myself in this godforsaken situation I was in. It was the white-knuckle Olympics, and I was absolutely competing for gold. I almost turned around at least three times, but this trip marked the first of many occasions in this process where I had to employ some excessively deliberate mind fucks in order to stay on my path– a level paramount to that of previous marathons and triathlons. I would soon become intimately familiar with, and even rely on, these internal conversations when every cell in my body was screaming, turn around…don’t have another surgery…get a second opinion…don’t get on the table…stop IVF… but, like a robot, I moved on anyway, because either I felt it was expected of me or I wasn’t sure of any other option. I think today, I would have turned that car around…actually, today I never would have gotten into the car at all. Because today, I rely heavily on the idea that there are so many possibilities and paths to your destination. And when you are brutally honest about where you stand and how you are feeling and ask for help and use your words and your resources, you find that elusive way – your way – not the borrowed, worn-out path from someone else.
The person I am today wouldn’t have gotten in the car, not because I had a desire to bail on IVF, which I did, or because I was afraid, which I was, but because I would have the courage to say— and I would feel the worth to say–something doesn’t feel right and I need time and help to reconcile this disconnect between what I want and what I know and what I feel. And if, after I explore all of that, IVF is truly the best method and direction for us to follow and we decide it is worth it, I will suck it up and power through like a beast.
Living true, making an informed decision, and gritting your teeth through the fear and the hard because you have deemed the risk and the reward worthy feels committed and strong and bad ass. Living in fear, staying quiet and ignoring your own voice, while forcing one foot in front of the other over unknown terrain feels like you are feeding yourself to the wolves. Over time, this act of repeatedly feeding yourself to the wolves discredits you, trust is lost. You fall out of integrity and surrender the very most precious thing…agency over your own wellbeing.
Here’s to living true my friends. Here’s to speaking up, even with a shaky voice and wobbly knees. Here’s to saying, “I will not leave you.” We deserve it.