If you ask for your life to change, it will change. Locked in an empty conference room in 2016 with my eyes full of tears, that is what I asked for. You see, the first step in the self-care and soul-searching journey is realizing that you are f*cked up. Not in the sense that you are a total disaster but more so like, there are clear areas of your life which could be handled differently. It is acknowledging that maybe, just maybe, there is an alternate way to approach your life.
For example, I could probably stop sleeping around with random men. I could probably go to work without counting down the minutes until I could leave. I could probably process grief a lot more productively than a bottle of tequila every Friday night. Step one: Realize thou art f*cked up, or the G rated version: Define your opportunities for improvement.
The next step was taking note of the severity of the issues I had and what I honestly believed would fix them. Sometimes it’s as simple as a workout class or mani-pedi with girlfriends; but for me, that would have just been a Band-Aid. I was at such a low point that I immediately took to Google and my insurance provider’s website to find a therapist. I knew that I needed to talk to someone who wasn’t a friend, who wouldn’t interrupt my stories or discount what I was feeling with their own personal experiences. I didn’t want to place that burden on my friends. I needed to pay someone to listen and give me the professional tools to fix my life.
Once I was in the chair, the hardest part was taking responsibility for my own actions. The thing about self-care is that there no route on this journey where someone else is to blame. This is both difficult to swallow and miraculous in its own right. Our parents, family, friends, and environment can be direct contributors to our poor state, but you are in control of how you navigate those situations and your circumstances. You cannot fix other people. You cannot make them love you or treat you better. You can most certainly ask but most people operate with their own interest in mind which makes it incredibly difficult to consider the feelings of others.
If no one else is to blame then you have the power to fix everything. That is the most wonderful part of this journey. You can change how you react to people. You can change the story of your life or circumstances that have been ingrained into your subconscious. You can decide what comes next.
Eventually, it’s all about implementing those tools. I suffer from anxiety, and I had to go from recognizing what it is and how it expresses itself, to me preventing anxiety attacks and identifying the triggers in my life. This involved a few difficult conversations in all areas of my life. I had to advocate for myself in the workplace, in relationships, and with family.
Last but not least, you have to make the pledge for less f*ckery. Once you’re aware of your issues and have set clear goals for what you want to improve in your life, you have to put an end to the madness. It’s not that you won’t fall back into your old habits. I have at least a dozen times but I don’t stay there as long as I used to.
Here is my pledge (in its most raw, unedited form):
I have seen some f*cked up things. I have made mistakes and lived to tell the tale. A lot of things have happened in my past but none of them truly define who I am or who I will become.
With that said, I will be damned if I’m not a well-adjusted adult human being who contributes to society in a meaningful way by allowing myself to reach my full potential. I will be someone who knows that they deserve love and belonging and someone who can freely give it because I know that I am whole and complete.
I will not mess anyone else up to the best of my ability. I will live a life led by love and joy while acknowledging the entire spectrum of human emotion and the human experience. I will live fully in this life and commit to being in the arena.
I initially embarked upon my self-care journey because I wanted to live a life that was better than the one I was living. I knew that I was carrying a heavy weight that I needed to let go of in order to move forward with my life.
True self-care is like learning how to walk. When a child learns how to walk, it is inevitable that they will fall. You cannot learn to walk and be jealous of those that crawl. You have to commit. You have to get up and try again. You have to hold the hands of those around you who understand what you are attempting to do. And you have to keep going to unfold into the person you were meant to be all along. When you do learn to walk, and you will, be sure to hold the hand of the next kid in line.