I’ve mentioned once or twice in the past that I worked directly with Michelle Ward, The When I Grow Up coach awhile back. I still follow her on Twitter, among other things, and think she’s pretty swell.
She’s big on “self-care” and has written about it often, most recently talking about how it is more than bubble baths and yoga. She’s got a point, and I’m glad she’s dusting off her cabaret show and doing something with her need to make music and perform. She’s going to be stellar.
But what I realized yesterday, after thinking about it a lot, is that there’s still a lot of framing of “self-care” as a wholly good thing. And I began to wonder if there wouldn’t be some benefit in admitting that, really, it’s a net good thing, not pure good. Sometimes it blows chunks.
I’ll go first in confessing, since yesterday was full of crap in the name of “self care”.
Yesterday, I had two rather enormous moles chopped out of my body & sent off to see what they look like under a microscope. The one on my right elbow was the smaller of the two at 1.5 cm across. It kind of looked like a bullseye. The larger of the two was one of the biggest the surgeon had ever had to remove, he said, and was located on the right side of my chest.
It was also my favorite mole.
Shut up. I know it’s weird to have a favorite mole, but I did. And now it’s gone, replaced by (I’m estimating) about three inches of stitches. Because of the location, the scar will probably end up being bigger than that. And, frankly, I was pretty sad to have made the mole for scar exchange.
On top of that, I feel like crap. Actually, physically feel like crap. I can’t move my right (dominant) arm to my face, making eating surprisingly challenging. I can’t bend it much at all. I can’t sleep correctly, and I accidentally bashed Bill in the side with my club of an arm early this morning trying to get comfortable. Bill had to help with my elbow bandage last night, and was horrified at the amount of blood and bruising there. I think he was too shocked at the bruise to be traumatized by the size of the gash in his wife’s arm.
So, yeah. I’m not feeling super positive about the exchange right now. Frankly, I think it sucks. I realized I can’t even have tacos or sandwiches just yet, because those are two handed meals, and I basically don’t have two hands to eat with. I’m sore. I find newer and newer ways to move and discover that movement hurts.
Man. What a bunch of bullshit, right?
Yup! Total crock of shit. But also? Totally the right choice.
I’m lucky in that I have health insurance. I can, and finally do these days, see doctors when I’m suspicious about something. While I wasn’t suspicious about favorite mole, I was about bullseye. I recently found out one of my relatives has had several cancerous moles removed. This was a moment to be thankful I was able to do the crappy-but-good-for-me thing, and just do it. Even though I, frankly, hated to.
When Michelle says, in that post above, that “Self-Care means Things That Are Good For Me“, this is what that means. It means, yes, yoga and bubble baths and maybe dusting off your old training and passion to reintegrate it into your life. It just also means Doing Those Things That Are Good For Me That Blow Chunks.
Going to the doctor. Or the dentist. Taking a break from that surprisingly draining friend. Getting parts of your body hacked off when it’s medically necessary1. Facing the fear that comes with negotiating that raise. Telling your mother she has to treat you more respectfully. Eating your vegetables2. (I’m still bad at the last one.)
Whatever it is, we all still need to do it. But what we sometimes forget to tell ourselves, or others, is that sometimes self-care sucks. And it’s ok to think it sucks.
Hell, if my friends Jen and Kim are any indication, it’s even okay to whine about the sucky thing a bit. Or so they keep telling me when I apologize about whining.
I think, on some level, the sucky “self-care” issues are both the easiest and the hardest ones to achieve. Hardest, for obvious reasons; who wants to do something that mostly just feels like it sucks? It’s really easy to find ways to put off something that feels full of bullshit. But easiest for less obvious reasons. Namely, it’s really hard to justify, sometimes, taking that bubble bath, but going to the doctor is actually important. It’s the moment we get to say, “Being a grown-up sucks, doesn’t it?” And everyone nods in agreement and (typically) no one thinks you’re selfish for going to the doctor.
I guess, in the end, that’s what’s been noodling in my mind. A request that (as everyone does) we all work hard to take good care of ourselves, but especially in the case where “good care” is easy to put off and totally sucks, at least initially.
I’ll be here to listen, and even agree, when you want to whine about how it’s full of bullshit. It’s only fair, really, for me to pay that forward.
1 Ok, this is a bit dramatic. Still, since I’m not happy about it yet, I’m sticking with it.
2 I’m thankful I haven’t had to do all of these. I just listed things that spring to mind.