Self Care: An Act of Political Warfare

I didn’t post all weekend. I missed two days of my 30 day blogging challenge and I’ve already missed a few days. The perfectionist part of me is screaming that I am a lazy failure. Instead of listening to that part I’m trying something new. I’m trying to listen to a more truthful and compassionate part. The truth is that I had a jam packed weekend. I reffed a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition all day Saturday. On Sunday I hung out with friends and went to a meeting for a new volunteer opportunity that I’m pursuing. The perfectionist part of me responds, “Well those activities didn’t fill up your entire day. There must have a been a spare hour you could have used to fit in a couple blog posts.” Part of me agrees with this assessment. Another part knows that the real truth is that I needed to take those hours for some much needed self care, so I did.

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert in self care and give you all sorts of advice. I’m actually very bad at self care. For the majority of my life I have completely ignored self care. I always thought that it was indulgent. Who had time for an hour long bubble bath with a book? More importantly, why did I deserve to spend an hour in the bath with a book? There’s got to be something more productive to do with my time. At the height of my eating disorder rest days from exercise were almost non-existent. When I did take a day off I felt like I was lazy. It never occurred to me that my body actually needed the rest. The rare times when I chose to spend my day reading or watching Netflix I felt like I had wasted an entire day of my life that I would never get back. I ate “healthy” to serve my eating disorder, not take care of my body. I did yoga to burn calories, not to enhance my mental or spiritual state. I had no idea what my body, mind, and spirit needed and I had even less idea how to do the things it did need.

Recently I heard the Audre Lord quote “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” I fell in love with this concept. Self care is not a luxury, it is a necessity. I cannot function to my full capacity in this world unless I practice self care. I have learned this lesson the hard way over and over after pushing myself so hard that I burn out and am forced to take multiple days to rest and recuperate. I wouldn’t crash so hard and need so long to recover if I just took incremental actions to take care of myself.

Audre Lord contends that self care “is an act of political warfare” because women are conditioned to believe that they need to do everything and attend to everyone else’s needs all the time, without appearing tired, burnt out, or ragged. Women are conditioned to believe that self care is self indulgent and that they are just supposed to be able to do everything all the time. We are conditioned out of self care. When women take the time to take care of themselves they are making the statement that their needs are just as important as everyone else’s needs. They are making the statement that their bodies deserve the same care as everyone else’s bodies. They are making the statement that they are just as important as everyone else.

So, I’m not going to beat myself up for taking the weekend off from posting. My body was tired. My mind was exhausted. My spirit needed rejuvenating. After spending so much of my day Saturday and Sunday pouring myself and my energy in to others I need to tend to my own energy, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I am not lazy or a failure. Now that I have taken the time to take care of myself I can put myself back in to my work with energy and confidence. I hope that you can engage in an act of political warfare and take care of yourself today.

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