In the first few seasons of The Late Show, Stephen Colbert did a recurring skit, then a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.JC
Over the many years of caregiving and volunteering I have done, people have often advised (admonished) me to “take care of myself.”
I don’t think it is something that I do very well.
I do try. I eat well (usually) and sleep (generally not so well, but not for lack of trying). I do my physical therapy exercises most days and speak with my counselor on a regular basis. (I love getting massages but the pandemic and other complications have interfered with what used to be a regular part of my self-care plan.)
I admit that the amount of stress, grief, and loss has been high for a lot of years. I would sometimes joke in recent years that it was too late for whatever stressor to give me gray hairs, although I notice that my eyebrows are beginning to turn silver and that my facial lines seem to be more indicative of sadness, unless I am actively smiling. (Or maybe this is straight-up aging, rather than stress-induced?)
(Hmmm…wonder if my extensive use of parentheses in this post is a form of denial, distancing, or hedging?)
But here’s the thing. When people want you to “take care of yourself,” the subtext is often to put yourself first, which is not my nature as an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). I will always care about what people close to me are experiencing and try to do whatever is in my power (and sometimes attempt what is not really in my power) to help. I also feel compelled to serve my neighbors, whether near or far, which, given the state of the US and the world, is a huge task, but I try to shoulder my tiny sliver of it as best I can.
It’s a lot.
I can hear some people’s brains clicking with (totally valid) thoughts about boundaries and such…
And maybe I’ll manage that wisdom if I am gifted with enough years.
Or maybe I will always be “guilty” of prioritizing the needs of others before my own.
Or maybe that is just who I authentically am.