Self-care and saving the world

CakeThu 30th August 2018

With the changes of recent years, which include the loss of my father, my mum’s cancer, the end of my marriage, the conscious shift to an open relationship framework and exploring my sexuality via BDSM and kink, one of the things I have noticed the most is the experience of change and feelings in the body.

Feelings are a response to your environment – internal as well as external.

If one sees oneself as a lake, then life is the series of rocks and stones of varying sizes that get thrown into that lake – and all of these rocks and stones cause ripples, some larger than others.

Last year, as I went through the separation process and tried to deal with the difficult feelings brought about by that change and loss, I was more unwell than I have ever been. I was constantly tired and run-down, and caught every virus that was going around. After a few post-pregnancy years of good health, this felt hard.

It did teach me a lot, though. It taught me the truth of the fact that all feelings and experiences are also felt and experienced by and in the body. It taught me that adequate sleep is crucial for coping with any and all change, and that lots of water and light plant-based foods are the cornerstones of a diet that works best for me. It also taught me that sometimes there is nothing you can do to feel better, that no amount of sleep, diet and support can make a shitty situation any easier. It is sometimes only time that helps, and the fact that, one day, after enough time has passed, you find yourself on the other side of that change.

Now, that process of change is in a new stage. I am here, in London, living alone as well as raising my children, and for me the next twelve months is about healing as much as possible. About giving my body and my heart what they need to feel, fully and deeply: that they are safe at last.

In the last six years I have walked away from my own troubles with drink, from a set of family and social relationships that violated my emotional and physical boundaries, and I am now, finally, in the company of people who see and hear me clearly and fully, who allow me to feel how I feel and be who I am with no judgement. I am home. I am safe.

But my body does not yet fully know it. My body still holds the trauma, with a small ‘t’ but still trauma, and it still holds the pain. And so I am making a conscious choice to spend time breathing, to spend time alone and quiet. I am choosing to be around only those who care for me as I am; and I am making a concentrated effort to behave and act lovingly towards my children by listening to and hearing their needs. I am also paying attention to my own needs, my own work and my own self, in order to heal as deeply within as I can.

I am very aware of the privilege I hold in having this time and space, and I am grateful for the resources that make this possible, but I do not question my deserving of that.

I am also aware that so much of this may be seen as selfish. To take care of one’s self, to speak out loud of, and then to take action to meet, the needs of the self is still a radical act. I am choosing to take care of myself, to give myself the time and space I need to heal, and I do this in the knowledge that this healing of self will then flow outwards and help with the healing of our trauma-beset world.