Self-care is so hard for everybody. However, for me: It’s the hardest challenge I deal with on a daily basis. I deal with many challenges, but self care out challenges them all. Why? It’s directly connected to every other challenge. Here’s what I am & I freely admit all this now. Doing so is a really big deal for me. I couldn’t admit/didn’t have the words for all these most of my life. I am:
1. a type A personality: this leads to me, often, thinking I have to do everything I do… perfectly. I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself. This is entirely self-inflected. As a follower of Jesus: I know God already sent perfection, in my place, so I can stop trying so hard to do what I NEVER could anyway. Does that knowledge stop me from making myself crazy tired trying, sometimes? Nope.
2. I am also an empath. Basically, this means I have the gift of empathy. Granny recognized it in me, at an early age, at the time I didn’t entirely understand what she meant, or see it as a gift. I just knew I was different from others, my age; due to my condition. I knew I was scared. I knew I didn’t want to be different. I knew I didn’t want all these emotions and feelings that kept coming out my tear ducts…no matter what I did to try and stop them. When I told her all these things: she handled it wonderfully and told me God had big plans for me. She told me I just couldn’t see them, yet. She was giving me the definition of faith. I wrote, in detail, about this conversion in a previous post.
Having CP makes all these more pronounced. Why? I think of myself as “normal” until my condition reminds me it’s still here. When it does: I feel terrible physically and an enormous amount of guilt because I have to make self-care a priority in order to thrive with my condition. That priority means setting boundaries and saying no to things I want to say yes to, sometimes. When I was in fourth grade my neurologist said to me: “You have to slow down. You can’t keep doing everything you’re doing at the pace you’re doing them. Rest and REM sleep have to be a priority for you. Okay?” Okay. Then he, my parents, my therapists, and I set out figuring out what that looked like for me. I was thrilled to be involved in all the conversations because it was about me. We figured it out, eventually. We made changes as needed.
A few years ago: one of my best friends, who became part of my chosen family/brother/my journey partner, and I were having a conversation. He said, “You know what, Stace?” I said nothing because I knew he’d tell me what. “What you just described is needing balance, in all aspects of your life, basically…or am I misunderstanding you?”
I sat stunned for a few seconds. No, you’re absolutely right. How do we get me there? I could hear the smile in his reply. “We involve everybody who matters to you and who loves you, I think, for starters.” You’re telling me to open my mouth more aren’t you? “My sister is brilliant.” Thank you, so are you. There are times when I need expressly given permission for me to feel or ask for what I need to. One, or more, of my chosen family are usually who understand that best, and give me permission. That permission sparks my courage and my fight. It also calms me down because it invokes two more words: we and together. Those take an enormous weight off my shoulders.
Why? I remember God didn’t create one human when He created the first. He created two. He means for us to lean on each other and love each other well. He intends for us to have community. That family, or community, doesn’t necessarily have to fit a typical definition for me. Yes, I have my blood family. However, I also have the family I get the privilege to choose to call family, and these incredible humans have seen me at my best, worse, and everything in between. I’ve seen them at their best, worst, and everything in between, too. I also know there’s nothing we can’t walk through with each other. We have, we do, and we will in the future. I say, often, I like our odds of not only surviving, but thriving, too; because our rate so far is 100%. I have no doubt this success rate will continue as well as long as we make the choice to do life…together.