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Prison Mind Break

For her 2016 New Years resolutions, Kylie Jenner published a YouTube video where she said that she felt the energy of 2016 was really going to be about “realizing stuff” and that she and her friends were really realizing a lot of things.  Sounds like she and Rick Grimes have been spending a lot of time together doing stuff…and ‘thangs’,
but, I digress.  giphy

When the video first came out she revived a lot of backlash for it, now looking back probably somewhat a little unfairly. Backlash, however founded or unfounded, is something I’m assuming the Kardashian/Jenner clan is pretty used to at this point, that however isn’t my point. Realizing things, is.

Have you ever met someone in your life that you instantly connected with?  You just felt like a deep connection with them? As if you had known them your whole life, or maybe in a past one? It’s happened a couple of times to me, and this past week it happened to a point where it made me almost uncomfortable.  I hadn’t known a lot about this person prior to our meeting other than what their face looked liked, however, mere hours later I found that strangely our lives ran this weird parallel.  Not exact or perfect obviously, but enough to where upon first meeting this person I felt like they could see through the usual exterior blockades I put up around me to keep myself safe.  To keep people away. And they could, by the way, see right through those walls.  They stared at me for a unnervingly long time before speaking after initially meeting before hesitantly, and very quietly asking if I’d like to take a walk.  I wasn’t about to say no to this person, what I wasn’t expecting was to learn so much, not only about life, but about myself on said walk.

While walking, I started to ask a question, and this person put both arms out to stop me.  He placed his hands gently on my shoulders and said: “Just try something for me. Breathe, in through your nose, out through your mouth.  Don’t talk, just walk, absorb the world around you and think about what you are going to do today to take care of yourself.  What is your self-care going to look like today?

Self-care is something I learned a lot, well, I thought I learned a lot about during an extended stay in residential treatment back in 2012.  This was a whole new lesson. “It can be anything.” He continued: “…a song that grounds you, brings you to reality, stopping to experience a moment, listening to live music, taking in a good smell, it doesn’t have to be a huge gesture, just always make time for it, every day.” The person talking to me is the kind of person you not only can’t help but be drawn to look at, but be drawn to listen to.  I wasn’t sure if it was his calm, quiet, demeanor which for some reason felt as unsteady as my own, or what, but everything he was saying I agreed with.

It was noticed at some point, that I was getting uncomfortable. I’ve always been good with the kind of self-care that looks like laying in bed and watching Netflix all day, but then it hit me.  That’s not always self care.  Sometimes, that’s depression, and God knows I’ve struggled, no, battled with that. So what was my issue with self-care? Why was it always easier for me to focus on “fixing” someone else, or helping someone else with their problems, or just ignoring all problems and responsibilities completely and not even taking the time to take thirty-seconds in the silence to center myself?  I know it sounds silly, and trust me, I thought it was too until I actually tried it.

I realized that I was running into this wall, a huge brick one, with the word ‘self’ painted on it.  I’ve never been that great at prioritizing myself, because, well, my self-worth isn’t exactly what I would call stellar.  It never has been.  As someone who has battled addictions of all kinds, anxiety, depression, PTSD, self-harm, and eating disorders of several varieties, I fall pretty low on the priority totem pole. So, having someone make me practice self-care made me uncomfortable, because they reminded me within minutes off meeting me, just how worthless I sometimes felt to myself.  What was even worse was that when I looked at them with this discomfort, I could tell that they knew! They knew exactly what I was feeling.  What wasn’t bad was that after some conversation, looking at them, I knew that they had been there too, something I hadn’t known I would encounter in this person, and something I definitely didn’t expect.

Every day.” He repeated to my still somewhat uncomfortable self. I tried to hold back a damn of tears that had been building up, and did so quite unsuccessfully.  I had met a complete stranger who had started a shift in my perspective.  I had gone into the day subconsciously thinking that I wasn’t worth taking care of.  I knew, of course that wasn’t true, I’ve been told it’s not, I’ve been told to take care of myself, and maybe that’s the thing.  I’ve always been told to do it, and I’m never good at it, and I might not be this time, and here I was being told that that too was okay, as long as I acknowledge that for that day, my self-care was no self-care and being honest with myself about that.  I came out of the day with a little bit more confidence in myself, with a glimmer of hope that maybe I was worth taking care of, and after all, as the person who knows me the best, I’m probably the best person for the job.  I’m not naive enough to think that it happens overnight.  That I’m going to wake up tomorrow loving myself because I found a friend in this great person, that I was taught a lesson, that I was open to it, I know it takes time to break out of the prison of your own mind.  Especially if you’ve been stuck there for a long time.

So, I ask you, what does self-care look like for you today?

Next week, just forewarning…tough questions, honest answers.