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Why is it so hard to care for one’s self during times of depression, stress?  Why do basics suddenly slide into remiss during times of emotional distress?

After having spent my Saturday in a complete funk, a funk so funky it was a bit scary, I woke up to a Sunday that began in frighteningly the same way.  All weekend I’ve been involved in a pissing contest with the ex over who is struggling with this break-up more.  All weekend I’ve worried over the obstacles I have in my life right now, searching for solutions and feeling there are none.  All weekend I’ve worried and wondered what my life is going to be like now.  What I should be thinking is– What do I want my life to be now?  Things have felt wildly out of control lately, and I need to take back my life.

Easier said than done, of course.  So I’m starting small, with just the basics.  First, taking care of myself.  I dunno why, but when problems in life start getting on top of me, I take it personally:  personally as in “I’m a bad person for letting these things happen” or “this is all your doing, your fault.”  I don’t sleep well, I don’t eat well, I stop caring about my personal appearance.  I take it out on myself.  And why??  This is so opposite of what I SHOULD be doing.   I can’t figure out where I’ve learned this kind of thinking– it certainly must be learned thinking or behavior from somewhere.  Where did I learn this– religion? family? society?  I don’t know.  But I cannot overstate how harmful this pattern has been to me in my life.

So today is my day, and I won’t feel guilty about it.  All of the problems I have will still be there on Monday.  Today I need desperately to relax, rejuvenate, reconnect.  Going to get a decent meal, read a good book, do some yoga.

No more tears.  I’m tired of handing over my money to Walgreens for boxes of Kleenex.

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A question occurred to me earlier: Why is care of the self so difficult? Why is caring for your self such a difficult concept?

During my recent break-up, all those around me were encouraging me to take care of myself, to not fall into the pitfalls of break-up hell: letting personal hygiene take a vacation, not eating or sleeping, etc. Not isolating. Of course I did have the post-break-up dive in self-esteem, but thankfully didn’t get stuck there.  The ex was angry with me when I said I didn’t want to be friends, that it wouldn’t be good for me:  he said it was selfish of me to not give him what he wanted in order to take care of my self.

Are we so altruistic as humans that we care for everyone else except ourselves?  My cynical and logical self says no, that is not the case.  It also says that most likely, during a break-up or dissolution, we focus on the other person, and what we lost, and the pain we feel, but not the actual care of the self.  I find myself following this pattern lately.  I focus on how much pain I feel; I focus on what I’ve lost; I have not focused on eating a decent meal.  I don’t even crave food.  Mostly, what I’ve craved is comfort, and the company of others.

I awoke at 4am this morning, and could not get back to sleep.  I’m not even tired.  I spent the afternoon in a fruitless argument with the ex cockney over things that hardly matter any more.  Every time we talk I dissolve into tears and he gets angry.  Funny how that happens.

Anyway.  There is a short piece of my memoir that I feel is appropriate here, as it speaks to healing and recovery of the self.  Just to set it up:  this was after recovering from having lost about 40 pounds and having come pretty damn near death.  I had gone back to college and had been successful in recovering from some pretty harsh things.  It’s about ownership, in a way– ownership of the body that you inhabit.

*a self

Graduation this time was anticlimactic, with no ceremony, no gown, no blank paper rolled tightly and tied with an orange string.

But here was this girl—another girl.  Forty pounds heavier, yes.  But also–
stronger, braver, with a whole new body.
I could live again, I could shop again.

I brought home a self.

my self.

my very own self

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