[Opinion] When Self-Care Ain’t Enough

The hardest thing has been loving myself. Not in a sense of loving my appearance or loving my accomplishments, but the relentless act of loving my self in the subtlety of each moment. I do not always treat myself with the same level of compassion and empathy that I, without hesitation, extend to others. I believed for a long time that if I chose to love myself the most, out of all of my relationships (romantic, familial, platonic, etc.) it would make me selfish. But wisdom has taught me that selfishness is rooted in loving oneself and oneself only.

Choosing to give love to others before giving love to my self has been like using sweat to water plants in a desert while staggering towards an oasis that is tragically just a mirage. I wrote not too long ago about stumbling in my journey by letting tasks get in the way of self-care. I am still on this journey and along the way have found that self-care practice cannot sustain by itself. Self-care is what helps me to replenish my bucket when all my energy is spent. Self-love is what directs my intentions about how I use the energy that is fueled by the contents of my bucket. I have noticed that an unhealthy relationship with my empathic nature has led me to over-tune-into the emotional state of others, missing opportunities to be in tune with my own heart.

Some days being an empath is overwhelming, but I sincerely cherish this quality. It helps me to be in tune with my loved ones and serves as a strength in my ability to connect with other beings, especially in my role as an educator. As I go forth on my journey, I am considering how I can honor my empathic nature while shedding the harmful layers of fear of selfishness that have clouded my vision.

In the midst of a lot of change over the past few years (grief & loss, starting a new job, becoming a parent, buying a house…), I dedicated less and less time to self-care. Up until our twins’ birth, I had been regularly seeing a therapist who was helping me manage my grief and cope with major life changes. But with what little time it felt like I had after our twins were born, I de-prioritized finding a new therapist.

As life continues to change and shall do so henceforth and forevermore, it is vital that I continue to work on self-care and begin a new focus on self-love. I view working with a therapist to support the development of new tools for self-love as I navigate all of this uncharted territory of life as key to enhancing the journey. I have a promising lead and look forward to writing further about this leg of the journey in the future.

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