Trigger warning(s) – plus I’m rambling
I was driving. It was a nice, bright, cloud-dotted sky morning. I felt a sudden rush of mixed emotions, but I opted to go with the self-love theme…mainly because I’ve worked hard to become who I am and I rather like the me who is.
Then it hit me – how the hell do I take care of me? I realized that no one – and I mean no one, except for one person, one time, has ever taken care of me. I was neglected and abused, pretty much my whole life. How can I love myself? How do I treat myself well if I have no idea what that looks like. I don’t even know what I like and how I like to be treated most of the times, simply because it was never an option to think about me, my wants, and needs.
So, it seemed a good idea to try to work that out. Lucky you…along for the ride. Here’s your opt out point – should you need to bail.
The only way I know how to love is by instinct. The only examples of love I have are my feline family (and other critters who have crossed my path). Work with what you’ve got.
The babies who share my life do not care if I look good or bad. Okay – there’s one. But how do I feel about the way I look? As age is gaining ground, I’m dismayed that I did not realize sooner that I was pretty hot stuff. It’s not bragging – it was truly an oblivious part of my life; now that I know, it’s almost sad I didn’t know how to work that. But…looks should not be part of this scenario apart from feeling good about myself. So, I’ve recently started trying to only buy clothing (when I’m not broke) that I actually, really like. A couple of flowing, long dresses have entered my life.
My babies like to snuggle. Physical touch was pretty much non-existant in my youth. The only touch was bad touch. So this has taken some work on my part. Add in Aspie tendencies and we’re doing tightrope work here. I have to make a concerted effort to actually reach out and touch other people when I think they need some comforting. But how does that translate for me? I love my kitties’ snuggles. Why? Well, mainly because I’m so comfortable with them and I know it’s a sign of love and affection.
Good. So, when I start to get close to someone and more comfortable, touch gets easier. Especially if it’s an intimate partner. But it takes some effort for me to be present while anyone gives me a hug. My autopilot kicks in and I tend to stiffen up a little. Note to self: try to enjoy the hug itself instead of going to the dissociative state of your youth.
Grooming – y’all may have read the book and know about the hair issue. If not, let’s just say that I was never taught how to take care of myself. Not in any form or fashion. Most of it came via school or friends. I didn’t even know about being female and it’s challenges until a friend guided me through various moments. That said, taking care of myself in this manner is pretty much foreign to me. Thanks to a few people who care about me, I do (from time to time) paint my nails. I wear some jewelry. I take a bath now and again (see previous post). <–meaning I lie in the tub bath…I shower regularly – even tho’ that was discouraged by a few for reasons we’ll leave out of this post.
I eat what tastes good. As a kid, I was fed food once a day. Twice if I went to school. But it was never what I wanted or liked unless I was living with my grandparents. Then I got to eat almost whatever I liked. Funny that. Now, I do not eat it if I don’t like it. And, as I try to keep myself present, I try to taste each bite. Savor the flavors of the food. I don’t always. Some days I fall back into the pattern of mindless eating. That seems a waste of food to me. Eating without enjoying it. smh So, on a good day, I will eat slowly and deliberately. I will often have more than one item. I like to change up the flavor on my tongue. A bite of this, then that, then the other…buffets are my favorite for just this reason.
Quiet – the quiet is essential to my well being – both as an HSE and as an INFJ. I’m wired for quiet. As I sit here, two of my feline family keep my company while the only sounds are my typing and the occasional car that drives by. I could do without the cars.
Fun – what is fun? Well, there’s the rub. I’m still trying to figure that out. As I was driving, I saw some horses and remembered how much I loved to ride. I didn’t get to ride very often in my youth, but I did love it. I can only imagine what it would be like to ride a horse who knew me and was my friend. Those poor horses just got shoved under me without a choice. I would really like a horse who wanted to be with me. I know, sounds odd if you’re not me, but believe me, it makes a difference.
Painting – I suck, but when the mood strikes it’s therapeutic if nothing else. I love to sing (even tho’ I lost my voice due to disuse). Playing guitar is back, but not much since that talent is gone with my voice. I love to dance, but my lungs have never been able to keep up with my desire. Writing – well, you all get to suffer from that one. 🙂
I love to climb. I used to climb trees. I would love to climb rocks, but I think my body has long since lost most of its strength due to years of being locked away like a prisoner. I’m trying to gain back some strength. It’s a very slow process, especially over 50.
Having friends. This one is an odd combination of trying to reach out and being totally clumsy about it. I never learned how to do this one. I once saw a meme about INFJs and friendship. It basically said that our extroverted friends decide they like us and then we meet others thru them. Sounds about right. But, I’ve made the effort to participate online with chat groups. Writing + Chat groups = semi-success. I still have the many who don’t quite get me. But then there are the few who seem to appreciate my “unique” approach to life.
So…beyond what I’ve dumped onto this page, I still have to figure out what I like in order to take better care of myself. Getting enough sleep. Being gentle with myself…physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I expect too much of myself most of the time. That is simply self-abuse…carrying on the abuse of my life on behalf of the abusers. I’m trying to catch myself and gently walk me back in the other direction – as I would a friend or my babies.
So, best advice I can possibly give you or myself – who do you most love in the world? For me, it’s my babies. How do you love them? How do you take care of them? Hopefully, you are kind and nurturing and attend to all of their needs and many of their wants. So the key would be to know what those needs and wants are. For me, most of the time (tho’ not all admittedly) I am able to tune into what my feline family needs and often wants. Now the challenge is to turn it toward myself.
Instead of belittling ourselves for failing to manage our self care well, we can use a break. No one taught us how to do this. Everything was geared to keep the abusers happy and in a place that would not spark an attack. It takes time to first tune into the fact that we still do that from time to time. Then it takes some effort to just be nice to ourselves…as we would those we love.
Because, after all, that self-love thing is sort of important…or so I’ve heard. 😉