I shouldn’t be allowed on the internet. Sometimes I have to bite my tongue and sit on my hands and generally give myself a good talking to so I don’t turn into one of those snarky types who leaves sarcastic messages at the bottom of posts and memes that have made us want to punch a person.
I mustn’t. I won’t. Oooh heck, I might.
Take for instance the notion of what constitutes “self-care”. Currently there is a line of thought whipping around the interwebs that is quickly turning into the kind of trope that has supercilious types nodding their heads in sycophantic agreement with those who have taken it into slightly smug brains to lecture all and sundry on what self-care isn’t.
Self-care, they say, isn’t bubble baths and hot chocolate. Those things, they say, are mere indulgences. It IS kale and exercise programs, therapy and boundaries. It isn’t essential oils and candles, books and early nights, it is leaving bad husbands and keeping your promises. It isn’t a pampering night in the bathroom or booking the kids in for an extra hour at nursery so you walk around the shops with your best friend in peace for once, it isn’t log fires and wine and donuts and lying in bed until lunchtime just because you can, it is budgeting, counting your steps, your calories and your macros, and keeping your promises and tidying your bedroom and telling the doctor you are going a bit bonkers.
And to this I say yes, you are ABSOLUTELY right, but for heaven’s sake get off your high horse!
Some of us are dealing with situations you can’t even begin to imagine. Some of us are already doing all the “good things” and still cannot fill the holes in our souls. Some of us aren’t doing the good things at all, because we can barely face the day. Some of us haven’t showered for two days and no amount of self-improvement, or meditation will force us out of clothes to fix that. Some of us are living with mental health issues or neurodivergent ways of being that make housework feel like being asked to climb a mountain daily. Some of us can’t stomach another smoothie today, but need chocolate or fairy cakes. NOW. And, no, we don’t care what you think.
Now trust me, I am not adverse to offering up something of the occasional lecture myself. In fact sometimes I can work myself into quite the frenzied twist as I try to pull my thoughts together into a cohesive statement of one viewpoint or another, but what I hope I never do is to deliver any advice I take it into my head to offer, from one blinkered viewpoint.
At the very heart of BrocanteHome is the notion that self-care means whatever it means to us, at that moment. In that fixed moment of time. Yes tomorrow we might wake up ready to try again to create the routines and rituals I provide as a framework to our lives in HomeSchool, but if today we need to do nothing more than simply focus all our efforts on existing, supported by a supermarket candle we have spent our last fiver on, and a stash of salt and vinegar, then so be it. Choosing what WE need in any given moment is equally as valid as feeling obliged to decipher what constitutes good self-care when we can barely think straight let alone count the macros in a slice of sourdough.
Pervasive, judgemental instruction is rife in so many corners of the internet, supported and encouraged by those who would sell their children before being forced to admit that that while they are nodding along to one blogger or influencer or another, what they authentically feel, or are actually experiencing is something far removed from that they are being sold and pretending to feel. Too often now I feel that we are asking women to suppress their realities. To shove their truth far down in their bellies and pretend that they too are coping fuelled by an inspirational Instagram meme and a bowl of bone broth.
To me self-care is WHATEVER GETS ME THROUGH THE NIGHT.
Life is increasingly hard. It is scarier than it was, more financially and morally challenging. I know too many people who are breaking inside and for them to be told that their personal coping mechanisms (beyond of course those that threaten life and limb or become life-endangering addictions) are somehow lacking, honestly makes me feel a little sick.
So I want you know that it is Ok. It is Ok if you are still wearing yesterday’s make up. It is ok if there is a hole in your sleeve and you don’t want to get changed because this top feels like the hug you need and the thought of taking it off makes you shudder (me). It is ok if just for tonight you have a glass of wine a little earlier than usual, It is ok if you haven’t washed the kitchen floor since three months last Thursday and you can’t visualise yourself doing it this week either. It is ok if all you want is to spend an afternoon lying in the darkness of your room having a little weep for what was and what might never be, or if today is the day you are longing for nothing more than the romance of a rose sprinkled candlelit bath. It is ok to light candles and tell yourself it is an act of care. To eat an entire pan of carbonara if that will suppress the scream inside.
Guilt has no place in our lives because it is destructive. We are already living with far too many “shoulds” and life seems to become more prescriptive by the day, so if we add to our own sense of perpetual judgement by allowing what others might consider “indulgence” to be struck off our own lists of self-soothing tasks, then we deprive ourselves of the protective armour we sometimes so desperately need
This then is permission to be yourself. To understand that you know yourself best and only you know what you need right now. While there is a decent argument to be made for not indulging our every whim, sometimes deliberate self-care, in whatever form we personally consider soothing, is absolutely essential for our own sanity, and even the daftest of teeny indulgences can remind us that we matter, and that life will go on regardless.
So yes. Whatever gets you through the night on those nights that seem to be imploding. No guilt, No shoulds, And as little shouty, judgemental social media as you can manage.
That me Darlings, is true self-care. But please do tell your doctor if you are going a bit bonkers won’t you?
Best post EVER!
I told my GP by email that my depression was even worse. He postponed my ‘phone consultation twice then told me that he couldn’t help.
I am near despair at the moment. My only child is about to go to University for the first time and he’s worried about living with new people and making friends. I have two big health worries at the moment which need specialist intervention. I cannot give up because my son loves me and still needs me. Self care at the moment is chocolate, McDonald’s Big Tasty and coffee.
Thank you for this post.