Brief update: I’ve taken a mini-sabbatical from chat and blogging in order to clear my head and get my feet under me. This was one of the most successful attempts at meeting my self love needs I’ve ever had, so yay for that. My bunnies have gone to a new home; I am currently finishing up with my second job; I am currently gutting and re-organising my apartment. It’s been nice to get to some of things, although I am missing my bunnies a little. And tonight I was able to get the primary cause of emotional turmoil to a good a place, which makes everything seem a little more settled.
I’m learning to focus on myself (which I’m still pretty inconsistent with, to be honest), I’m learning to focus more on the things which feed my soul (like my faith, music, time with the right people at the right time, good food, enough sleep, saying ‘no’ to various things, etc.). And it all feels rather strange. Not in a bad way, but in an ‘I’m in very unfamiliar territory right now’ kind of way. Sometimes that’s a very intimidating feeling. And I am feeling right now like a lot of what I’m used to relying on, the things I was hoping would be a source of consistency in my life, even a lot of old habits that I recognise now weren’t very good habits in terms of self love…these are now unavailable and/or actively being removed from my life. Things look and feel different, and part of me, a very loud part of me, does not like change, not one bit. Very inclined to dig my heels in at the moment. The internal battle continues. But at the same time, I feel rather proud of myself for identifying something I’m feeling while I am feeling it, so again yay.
Which brings me to the topic of this blog: self-love vs. indulgence. I wrote before how I realised I have frequently caught myself veering into indulgence when what I really needed was self-love. For me, that sometimes means discipline (telling myself ‘no’ when I want things that are not what I need, and then spending time and energy meeting my needs rather than pursuing cravings that arise because I haven’t met my needs – you see how this easily becomes a vicious cycle if I just let myself go), and often it means just being more thoughtful about what I do and why I choose to do it.
The best way I’ve come to process this came from my latest source of viewing pleasure /background noise: Parks & Rec.
If you haven’t seen this masterpiece of modern art, I highly recommend it. The two characters featured here, Tommy and Donna, can be fairly described as ‘indulgent’ (especially Tommy in the early seasons). In this particular episode, they have set aside a day to ‘treat’ their selves. Not themselves, I do know my grammar – but ‘yo self‘.
Another character, Ben, is at this point in the show struggling with depression, and Tommy and Donna bring him along to try to cheer him up. When he tried to engage in the ‘treats’ that Tommy and Donna were drawn to, it only stressed and/or confused him more. Entirely unhelpful, left him feeling worse than ever. Fortunately, Donna realises Ben is like a fish out of water; so she asks him, if he could blow money on anything in the world, what would it be? Which gives us this glorious moment:
Seriously, watch this show. Zero regret.
By the end of the day, Ben breaks down in tears confessing this is what he needed. To feed his ‘self’. His soul.
Indulgence can be good, it can be precisely what we need. The best part about this episode is how it illustrates that the indulgence that serving as genuine self love is unique to the individual. Sometimes, self love looks a lot like indulgence. However, there is indulgence for indulgence’s sake, and then there is indulgence for your sake. To fill a genuine need that this particular indulgence can actually fill. This is where indulgence becomes self love – or, rather, when giving to your self, focusing on your self becomes a healthy, beneficial, essential act.
Now, I know I’m still pretty new to this whole self love thing, so I’m by no means claiming expertise, wisdom, or even that the concepts I’m running with are decently proven yet. But I am pretty sure even indulgence serving as self love is not going to get to the root of the issue(s) that got the person into the state they’re in (unless the issue was complete lack of self love). This is not the way to solve all of one’s problems. I still have to deal with people and situations that are difficult, stressful, worrisome, disappointing, frustrating, discouraging, hurtful, and sometimes that just piss me the fuck off. But that capacity to deal with those things has to come from somewhere. It requires energy. It requires some sort of foundation, grounding, an anchor, something to be a point of reference for reality. It requires patience. The capacity to think, to process. And if my life is a testament to anything, it’s that I am a finite being without infinite resources, and therefore at some point I will run out of what is required to deal.
And I have a few times now. It’s awful. I have come very close to doing things that a year ago I would have never thought I would ever even consider doing. I have had a couple times where I just about went entirely numb emotionally, and that was a bit concerning to go through. I have had some extreme emotional reactions where the degree to which I was upset really concerned me (‘questioning whether certain relationships were healthy’ kind of extreme). I have gotten to the point where I just had no hope left, no trust, not desire to continue with certain things that I genuinely used to relish.
I do not want to be in those places again. I don’t, I really, really don’t. And I don’t think I can entirely avoid them, life happens, we all end up dealing with difficult things at some point, and sometimes we end up tapped out. However.
I can treat my self. I can keep those internal resources built up. I can focus regularly on what gives me strength, peace, courage, keeps me balanced and healthy. And from that place, I can deal with these things so much better than always trying to scrape by and desperately hoping I get a day or two of peace before the next calamity strikes.
Sometimes that means I need a break, even from people I love and want to be around. Sometimes it means making myself unavailable so I can focus on myself. Sometimes it means not hitting the snooze button 6, 7, 8 times and instead getting up to pray (not sure which is harder right now, giving up those last 30 minutes of sleep or the other stuff – don’t look at me in that tone of voice, I know I’m not alone in this, sleep is a delight). Sometimes it means giving up things I want, things I really, really want so I can give myself what I need.
Good grief, I feel like I’ve been this spoiled little child who always went after what she wanted for years and years and is only just now realising what a bad idea that is. We all like to think we’d be Charlie Bucket, but I’m pretty sure I was one of those other kids in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
My point is this: You gotta know your self to love your self. Other people can give ideas and suggestions, and I am not wrong for realising they do not fit me. Not everyone has to do yoga, play sports, like music, learn to knit, go to church conferences, go to therapy (yeah, I said it), stay in, go out, change their diet, get more sleep, change jobs, get a pet, drop a hobby, vacation somewhere hot and humid. We are gloriously unique individuals, thank God. What’s important is being attentive to ourselves, and if a need is not being met that we figure out how to meet it. And then follow through.
Behold, the areas in which I am still wildly inconsistent. But I will do better.
I could at this point launch into a discussion of how Rudolph (ah, Christmastime claymation, how I have missed you) also illustrates the celebration of and attention to the unique aspects of our selves is essential to living well. I could also dig into how this concept is related to Sabbath in the Bible (Leviticus 16:31, Deuteronomy 5:12, Mark 2:27). Or I could sleep.
See, this makes my blogs shorter too. Everybody wins.