Self care has gotten so… kitsch. Most of the time when you’re looking up something related to self care, it’s connected to some company that’s trying to sell you something. Or its a person behind a company who’s not just trying to sell you something that is in reality SO VERY PERSONAL, they’ve marketed the thing so that the only way a gullible person can practice ‘self care’ is if they look exactly like the seller (you know who you are). If it’s not a company, it’s a person who picked the best picture from 19,000 attempts and slapped a filter on it before the inevitable hashtag. Self care is supposed to be about SELF.CARE. And if we spent less time marketing it and more time trying to practice it ourselves and actually share it with others (NOT in the form of the perfect beach sunset), we’d all be better off.
I came into self care with the grace of people who were patient enough to help me understand that I was actually worthy of it. In the beginning (the VERY beginning), I was taught that I didn’t matter. My needs and wants didn’t matter, so I stifled those things and poured myself into service of others. What I found was that suddenly I was worthy, because of what I could do for everyone around me. And I was good at it. I put all of my needs and wants aside and catered to the person du jour because it was proof that I MATTERED.
Then one day there was nothing left. No me… just a shell of a human who had never been taught that she was worthy of love, of self care. I had spent every ounce of energy in the service of others, and had just about lost myself in the process. And despite my actual accomplishments as a woman… as a human… the only thing I’d managed to gather in terms of people were those who were interested in what I could do for them. It taught me that I was the one who had to determine that I mattered. Because the people who I’d surrounded myself with certainly didn’t feel that way. So I disconnected. I started to pay attention to my patterns and I disconnected from bullies and emotional parasites and selfish humans who were only interested in what I could do for them. I learned to stand up for myself. I learned to say no. I learned to make time for me, to do whatever the fuck I wanted to do, even if what I wanted to do was nothing at all. Fuck the laundry. The world won’t come to a fiery end because I didn’t do laundry today. I won’t lie; initially it took so much effort. So much energy. But eventually it became a habit. And I learned to strike the balance between being of service to MYSELF, that I might actually be of service to others.
When you get on an airplane and they go into the safety diatribe, they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself FIRST. How can you help someone else breathe if you’ve stopped breathing yourself? How do we NOT take this to heart? It’s such a simple concept, and yet here so many of us are… offering our last breath. Why?
My personal self care practice is very heavily connected to my time. I value it more than anything. What I do with my time is my choice. I am okay with saying that I don’t want to spend time doing something that I actually don’t want to do. Over time, I’ve learned to find balance between being bitchy about it, and offering alternatives that work better for my personal health and well-being. Previously, when I did things out of some false sense of obligation, I’d end up being resentful about my time being stolen. I hated that feeling. It took me a long time (my late 30’s) to firmly establish boundaries, and I have no desire to go backwards. I’m open and honest and sweet about it, but if I don’t want to do something then I absolutely don’t do it. And I’ve learned to be okay with some less than favorable reactions about that. We’re all adults, and I promise you’re going to be okay. I certainly am.
If I were to pass on anything about self care, it would to be to remind women that you matter… right now. Not when you’ve lost 10 pounds, or put on some makeup or a nice dress, or had a spa day. Right here, right now, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. You are worthy. You are amazing. You matter. I understand the theme of self care is universal, but I’m not talking about that right now. I have the distinct honor of witnessing a movement where women are standing together and talking to each other instead of about each other, despite social conditioning to the latter. We’re always so busy pulling each other apart… what might we accomplish if we put each other back together? Some of the most abusive people in my past were women. Some of the most valuable humans in my life today are women. I want more of today… for everyone.
If we actually respected (not begrudgingly accepted) each other’s time, each other’s needs (even if that need is to be left the fuck alone), I feel like we’d automatically pass on the valuable lesson of self care. I’m not offended if someone tells me no. They don’t even have to tell me why. No one owes me anything. I don’t owe anyone anything… not even an explanation. I respect your time and your space and your opinion. I will always treat you with kindness and courtesy. All I ask is that you do the same for me.
*Jennifer Christie is a licensed esthetician, with a private practice in Valley Village. She specializes in treating troubled skin and drawing the potential connection to troubled energy. Her method goes beyond physical treatments and targets the source of the skin ailment, whether physical or energetic. She believes in creating a safe space for her clients to express themselves and heal from the inside out.