A different kind of self-care
“2021 is going to be my year of self-care”
I told myself as I took another swig from the bottle of prosecco (yes, the bottle. Did you see the year that was 2020? Gimme a break) and wolfed down a Yorkshire pudding leftover from Christmas dinner. Despite there being only two of us in our flat, I somehow managed to make a feast for at least 10 people.
I turned 28 in 2020. Not old by any means, but definitely no longer young and cool.
Oh, who am I kidding? I was never cool.
I still felt like a bit of a child though. I think I grew up too quickly in some areas, and not at all in others.
Despite my boyfriend and I living a bit of a “different” lifestyle to the norm, I decided it was probably time to grow up a bit.
So I decided. 2021 is going to be my year of self-care.
NO, NOT THAT KIND OF SELF-CARE!
Face masks, long hot bubble baths, yoga and a lovely cuppa are all things that make me feel good, for sure. I’m not shitting on them or their powers in any way.
But they’re temporary.
They only mask the pain for so long.
And I didn’t want to be that person running away from, or worse, drinking to ignore, my problems. I am not my father.
I wanted to sort. My. shit. out.
I had some serious work to do.
First self-care tactic: the physical.
Did you know it’s NOT normal for your jaw to click and crunch everytime you open it? I had no idea!
I hate the dentist. Despise it. Loathe it with every fibre of my being. Which is why in January, I begrudgingly picked up the phone and booked my first dentist appointment in three years. In German as well, no less.
I hadn’t even opened my mouth. My dentist touched my neck and said “ach nein, ich sehe sofort das Problem” (oh no, I can see the problem immediately).
Living in Germany has been an experience, for sure. But it’s definitely been more stressful and anxiety-inducing than I ever thought it would be.
All the stress and anxiety caused me to grind my teeth almost all day every day for two years straight. My jaw has physically moved (how do you even manage to do that?!) and my teeth have become all out of alignment which means I have no bite.
It’s not so obvious to just glance at me. But I can assure you it is frustrating trying to eat anything. Above all, it’s really bloody painful.
I am now spending the next two months going between physiotherapist and dentist to get it all sorted. Praise the German Bureaucracy Lords for decent health insurance!
Actually doing shit.
How many times have you said “I’d love to do that, but…” and then reeled off a list of excuses as to why you can’t?
- I don’t have time
- I don’t have the money
- I don’t have the flexibility
- I don’t have enough Instagram followers
My count sits at about 15455656.
The past two years have taught me that: yes. You can. If you really want to do something, you will find a way to do it.
I didn’t think I could run a marathon. Until I did.
I definitely didn’t think I could move to a new country with no job and no money. Until I did.
I didn’t think I would get past saying “genau” in German. Until I did.
And now, I want to do something new. I want to start actually carving out a real career for myself. Work that brings me genuine joy. But I can’t do that unless I put in some serious hard work in the background first.
Gotta lay those foundations, baby!
Thing is, I was going through the thought process of “I need to have this before I do that” and “I need to do this many projects for free before I can ask for money from people”.
Until I met people on Instagram who were just bloody doing it all anyway. They don’t have the best camera for filming videos, they don’t have tens of thousands of followers, they don’t have shit loads of cash (or maybe they do, I’m just making assumptions here!).
What they do have is confidence in themselves and their work ethic. A willingness and commitment to simply start doing shit.
So that’s where I’m headed.
The third and final self-care tactic I’ve undertaken is therapy. Yay!
A brief explanation: my father has caused, and continues to cause, a lot of emotional trauma in my life. I’m trying everything in my power not to be like my father in any way. This is another big step to freeing myself from his BS, because running away to a different country clearly didn’t work!
So in January, I sent an email to a therapist someone had recommended to me. I asked her to help pick me apart and put me back together again, sans trauma.
And in February, I started fortnightly therapy. It’s EMDR therapy, although we haven’t actually got to the EMDR part yet because it turns out my trauma goes waaaaaaaay further back than I originally thought.
But after our initial sessions, I finally saw PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder written on a page next to my name. That felt good.
I’ve been asking the question “WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?” for years.
I got diagnosed with depression as a teenager and anxiety in my mid-twenties.
But to now understand the reasons I have those things. What a relief.
Talking about the past is hard. Talking about pain and grief and loss and abandonment is hard.
It’s painful, uncomfortable and god I wish I didn’t have to do it at all. But I also know that it will all bring me one step closer to the person I want to be.
I’m terrified. And excited.
That’s the kind of self-care I’m doing in 2021.
Uncomfortable, scary, painful, exhausting. Exciting, healing, growing, worth it.
Wow, Steffi – that line towards the end: “I wish I didn’t have to do it at all. But I also know that it will all bring me one step closer to the person I want to be.” That hit me hard. I often feel like this, wishing that my problems weren’t my problems, wishing I could have a “simple” life like I imagine other people to have, wishing that it didn’t have to be that painful. But, you’re so right – it will be worth it in the end (I also feel like I’m not at the “end” yet, but I have faith in the process…). A big pat on the back to you for being so courageous and facing these demons. Just the fact that you have so much insight into yourself and you’re already taking steps to dig even deeper – you are going to be absolutely unstoppable. Thank you for being vulnerable and telling your story; I love it!
Thanks so much Simone! I really appreciate your kind words ❤️ I feel like it’s the difficult but necessary work that makes us into more empathetic and sympathetic people. That can only be a good thing in my eyes!