Self-Care Sunday: Reality & the Triumphant Narrative

Close up photograph of tree roots and moss. Text: Self-Care Sunday: Reality & the Triumphant Narrative

Self-care is not always big, beautiful or glamourous.

Sometimes, self-care looks like surrendering, stopping pushing, stepping back.

Sometimes, self-care is wiping down two cupboards and leaving the washing up for tomorrow.

Sometimes, self-care is not being mean to yourself when you don’t accomplish your ‘to-do’ list.

Sometimes, self-care is action over affirmations.

Self-care can even be putting less on your to-do list and leaning into the reality that we aren’t robots and that’s ok.

There are times when healing can feel very far away. When we’ve tried everything and then we’ve tried everything else. If you are here, please hear me when I say this doesn’t mean it’s your fault you are hurting. 

We live in a society which has glorified personal power to a warped degree. It’s insinuated that if you are ill, struggling, short of money, in pain, then it’s because you haven’t tried hard enough yet.

I resist this narrative. I don’t believe it. I don’t experience it in my own life. I worry about its implications; the silent denial of all those forces impacting us like racism, sexism, ableism, class prejudice, LGBTIA+ prejudice, fat prejudice and all the other ways in which we are marginalised, judged and persecuted.

I don’t believe all that is grist to the mill of the triumphant narrative.

“People want a triumphant narrative. They want to know that you have solved the problem of your body. But my body is not a problem and it’s certainly not something I have solved yet.” – Roxane Gay

When I wheeled to the bus stop in my village to catch the bus to clinical placement, with the camber so steep and the street so badly maintained, it was impossible for my wheelchair to grip the pavement and so I fell into the road, in the path of an oncoming car. This isn’t inspirational.

This doesn’t make me more amazing or determined, it makes me a citizen living under policy that prioritises austerity over safety. It’s not ok. It’s not a personal challenge I’ve overcome, it’s an environmental issue that needs to change.

(Don’t worry, despite osteoporosis I thankfully didn’t break any bones. Thank the Divine for riding boots that act like amazingly cushioned leg braces).

Today was an ‘ideal’ day is so many ways, it’s just what I’d worked towards in terms of work, appointments and fun. And it still had hard times. To me, that isn’t a failure. Dealing with the discomfort is something I’m committed to learning. As a human, I will experience these things. I don’t want to fight to try and eradicate difficulty, pain, suffering or death but to learn to live well through these and shift the injustices that make them harder than they need be.

For me, this week, self-care has looked like:

Staying with my practices, even if my ‘morning routine‘ of art/yoga/meditation took all day.

Remembering how much I love writing, staying with it. Coming back to this each time I pick up a piece. Minimising distractions to stay in the flow.

Taking in the thanks offered from clients and customers when they have found my work useful. Letting it fuel me.

Listening to my body and it’s needs. Sometimes I just needed to lie still. Or to allow myself to feel the sadness in my body, the anger, the tears.

What small but potent acts of self-care have you experienced this week? Let me know in the comments!