Letting Someone Take Care Of You Can Also Be A Part of Self-Care
I’m 8 hours in to a day that can only be defined by the anxiety that’s been present since I woke up this morning.
I’ve had days like today before and they usually play out the same. I’ll wake up early, as I do daily, but the day will instantly feel different. I’ll feel heavy, in an uncomfortable way. I'll feel present, in a way that I wish I wasn’t.
I build deeply set, hard-to-let-go-of bonds with my soft comforter and every single possible future worry I’ve managed to conjure up within the few moments I’ve been awake.
I pile them onto the bed until the only space left is just enough for my next exhale and nothing more. And, even then, the belly full exhale is fighting against the elephant that’s sitting on me at the center of my abdomen. It’s migrated from my chest where I noticed it at 6:30 am, from right above my rib age where it slithered to by 7am and at 7:52am it’s made a home right in the center where it can hopscotch between making it hard to breathe and making it hard to stomach.
All the while, I’m just laying there. I stare at the popcorn ceiling I wish the apartment would do without. I alternate between convincing myself that in the next minute I’ll get up and acknowledging that who am I kidding, it’s going to be one of those days.
I turn to my side, crawling closer to the corner of my bed because maybe being closer to the edge will make getting up, getting started easier. This proves hard though because the closer I get to the edge of the bed the closer I am to real life and the worries I’ve decided that come with it.
Ain’t that some shit.
So I turn to the other side of the bed instead.
I count sheep and minutes and the beats of my heart.
Then I start counting breaths and I work through my morning exercise, a few times over because that’s just the kind of day we’re having.
“I’m going to get up. I’m going to go to the bathroom and get dressed. I’m going to make breakfast and a smoothie. I’m going to sit down with my laptop.”
4 items on my list, that’s all that separates me from feeling more functioning.
Except, "crap, to get dressed I have to pick clothes out. Nope nope nope, not going there. All I need to accomplish right now is walking to the bathroom."
And so, I do. Then I put on an outfit that checks off getting dressed but that gets switched out of before I make my way outside hours later because sometimes a placeholder outfit is needed.
I work. I have food, two meals. I listen to music, watch a Stephen Colbert video.
Then I walk outside at 3:45pm and I wonder why, if I know that I’ve used up all my energy trying to make it through today, I am having such a hard time melting into someone else’s care.
Self-care is celebrated, encouraged, deemed a pillar of every lifestyle brand’s social media strategy, but I think what it gets wrong is that sometimes self-care can’t just be about you self caring.
On days that are hard, when surviving has used up all of your energy, it shouldn’t feel like a failure to let someone else do the caring.
Giving into my boyfriend’s care, shouldn’t feel like the hardest thing I do all day, especially not on a day when concentrating and breathing were both things I needed to consciously coach myself through.
In therapy a variation of this is repeated: “Just because your shoulders can carry the weight, doesn’t mean they have to.”
My relationship with surrendering is especially relevant when I have anxious days because my stubbornness tries to get in the way. My anxiety meets my strong will and agrees that if I’m going to get through this I need to do it by myself.
I don’t have to. Asking for a hug, for a quiet space to rest after a really hard day, it’s not failing, succumbing or putting someone out. It’s letting myself be loved in the midst of thoughts that tell me I may not be worthy of it.