Flat-lining and a day of ‘self-care’

This week has totally kicked me in the tits…is that even a phrase?! I mean, wow. What can I say? I feel so utterly knackered and overwhelmed at the minute that I could cry. Actually, I have cried, which is really unlike me.

The alarm went off this morning. I ignored it. It went off again. I ignored it again. I left it until the last possible moment and then dragged my arse out of bed and tried to get the kids up and out the house without too much fuss. I was on autopilot going through the motions of the morning, all the while I felt like that attachment wound, the dark pit of doom and need, was wide open and sucking my life force down into it. I’d been dreaming about Em (this two year anniversary of termination is whooping my ass) and felt devastated. I wanted Anita but it’s only midweek so I felt in the limbo zone so far as emotional support goes: the time between sessions seems to stretch out endlessly at the minute.

Having dropped my kids to school I should have got set for work, but I just had nothing. The young parts were so activated that I didn’t know what to do with myself. Most of the time I can muster some kind of ‘get up and go’ and reach down into my bag of masks and fix the teacher one on with rubber bands and chewing gum –  but today it just didn’t feel possible. Woeful Wednesday is a heavy day, anyway, with 6 hours of 1:1 lessons and I knew that I wouldn’t get through to 8:30pm in one piece.

Sadly, here I was again, staring at that all too familiar emotional landscape: the deep ache of emptiness and loneliness, coupled with a deeply uncomfortable sick feeling – like a heavy dread. It was so somatic that I genuinely wasn’t sure if I was going to sick. I felt young and lost and actually I think, quite dissociated.

What could I do?

Self-care is something I have been notoriously bad at. I think I have always been a people pleaser and so my needs have often been shelved in favour of looking after the needs of others. To be honest, for a long time I didn’t even know what my needs were and didn’t know what I was doing, running on empty, was burning me out.

Over the years I have pushed myself so hard, taken on more than I can handle, and given every last ounce of myself to do a good job. I have never let people down even if it’s come at a heavy price to me. Humans aren’t machines, though, and I have found that people extend the same kindness to me when I can’t do something as I do to them when they are ill so really it’s been me pushing myself too hard, not actually the expectations of others keeping me at the grindstone. I know this patterning comes from a fear of being deemed ‘inadequate’ and ‘not good enough’ but that’s not the reality now. I am really good at what I do and so that narrative is outdated and needs reviewing…when I get a minute!

When you look online you could be forgiven for thinking that self-care is all about bubble baths, and reading good books in bed, journaling, and going out walking in nature, decluttering your space, or drinking two litres of water a day, cooking healthy meals, and treating your body as a temple. And yes, it can be that stuff, without doubt – and so much more. But sometimes self-care is as simple as just saying “No” and doing nothing (which actually can be quite hard for me).

Listening to your inner wisdom and honouring what’s being said inside is self-care. And today, that voice told me, “I just can’t.” In the past I would have made myself power on through, but it would have come at a cost. I’m so low on spoons at the start of the day right now, that I would have been without cutlery for the school run, dinner, and bedtime – and this is not fair on myself or my children. They get a grumpy mum and then I feel guilty afterwards for not being what they need. I also suffer because it takes a vast amount of energy just to hold myself together on a daily basis and if I am left with just my hands – it’s no good. I need those spoons!

So, knowing where I was at, today, I gave myself permission to opt out and cancelled my first teaching session of the day which meant I now had until 1pm to rest and regroup. I took a shower and got back into bed and called my best friend. We chatted, caught up, and she gave me a much-needed pep talk (I’ve been getting my head in a mess about therapy and tying myself in ever tighter knots) and it was such a good thing to have done.

I limped through my double lesson at 1pm and realised that I was not going to make it through the afternoon lessons as things stood. When I got off my Zoom call at 3pm, I looked at my phone to see that my 4:30 was cancelling as they had tested positive for COVID. That gave me a bit of breathing space. I went on the school run and felt utterly exhausted. The child parts we really vocal and desperate for Friday to come and to be in the safety of the therapy room with Anita and I burst into tears in the car as I was driving to my kids’ school for pick up.

Adult me was trying to calm those poor distressed parts but it was like the old days where those young parts had no concept of Adult Me at all, and so there was no way of communicating, or soothing. I think this is a product of me (Adult) being so tired and thinly spread that my capacity to contain my various parts isn’t going quite a well as usual… and this has spilled into therapy, too.

I’ve felt disconnected from Anita lately and like things are spiralling (for the parts). At least Adult Me has a reasonably good handle on the fact that Anita and I are solid and fortunately Anita noticed what was going on on Monday, when I was in False Adult, and wrapped me in a cuddle after about ten minutes. That’s how it stayed for the remainder of the session. I talked about no end of shite but to be physically close felt so much more stabilising and containing than those sessions recently where I’ve been on my own private island of misery.

I collected the kids and felt done in. Driving home I decided that I was going to cancel the remaining sessions of the day and give myself the night off from being teacher. My wife is away for work this week, so it’s just been me doing everything and I needed a break. Financially it’s not great to have done this – being self-employed there’s no sick pay and so mental health self-care days cost me. But I figure the cost of not listening to myself today would have been far greater in the long run. I don’t like feeling strung out and anxious which is what happens when I go too hard.

To be honest, I still feel like I am on my edge and the next couple of days will be a real struggle, but at least I have done what I can to try and get to the weekend in one piece.

So, that’s my act of self-care. I’m financially worse off. There was no bubble bath involved. My house is still a mess. I’ve eaten complete shit all day and not drunk enough water. I have done no exercise. My body is certainly not a temple – or if it is- it’s one of those ancient ones that needs propping up with scaffold and a $10million renovation fund! But I looked after me today in the only way I could and that was to take some time out and give myself space to be how it is without expectation. In the ideal world I guess I’d have done that and done all these nurturing things above and be absolutely glowing now. But today, going back to bed and talking with a friend beat sitting with cucumber on my eyes shaving my legs (and it always will!).

What’s your self-care looking like right now?

25 thoughts on “Flat-lining and a day of ‘self-care’

  1. Clara January 26, 2022 / 10:25 pm

    Sending you massive massive hugs and love. I wish there was more I could do.
    It is interesting you write about self care just as I was contemplating emailing Ella to ask for a self care session next week, where we don’t talk about all the shit going on for me but just colour or craft or go through holiday brochures. It’s that or I cancel the session. The hard work of therapy is so exhausting right now. I also have an initial meeting with the compassionate touch therapist tomorrow – eek. Other than that I’m spluttering on, but your post is definitely making me consider what else I can be doing to nurture me, myself and I! Huge hugs xxx

    Liked by 4 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum January 26, 2022 / 10:39 pm

      Thanks lovely! I think your idea of a self-care session sounds like a great idea. Sometimes we need a break from trudging through the trauma. I text Anita this evening and said “Can we please just read stories and have cuddles on Friday” – for the same reason. I haven’t physically got enough energy to do much right now and parts of me have contemplated not going but others can’t face that AT ALL. I just hope I don’t get derailed by jealousy of whoever the Velveteen Rabbit belongs to … and that is something I’ll have to address soon 😦 ahhh reality check: she’s not just mine! lol. Big hugs and deep breaths and I really hope that the meeting with the therapist goes well tomorrow xxx

      Liked by 2 people

      • Clara January 27, 2022 / 5:06 pm

        Thank you. I’ve emailed Ella and she said yes to the session I wanted so that’s good! I also had my meeting with extra potential T which I’ll try and write up on my blog. It seemed to go well, but she has a process where we both have a ten day cooling off period to reflect before deciding whether we can work together (though she did said she had no reason to say no). Big hugs, I hope you are feeling a little bit better today xxx

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Carol anne January 27, 2022 / 6:41 am

    Hugs! So glad you could talk to a friend, sorry its been shite lately! I know the feeling all too well! Your in my thoughts, and so are your young parts! My young parts send them hugs! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum January 27, 2022 / 9:44 am

      Hugs back at you all 😊. It’s definitely been a hard few months hasn’t it? I think living in pandemic is taking its toll now. Take good ‘self’ care 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. SunsetCherryBlossom January 27, 2022 / 9:10 am

    You’ve actually just given me the “permission” to cancel a yoga class! You don’t get much more “self care” than yoga, but today was turning into such a busy day and I’m not able to cope with everything. So cancelling that has give me the breathing space to manage everything else. So thank you.
    How are you feeling today? It’s nearly Friday!

    Liked by 3 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum January 27, 2022 / 9:43 am

      Good for you. I still feel like I’m swimming against the tide but I’m not drowning in the way I was yesterday. I’ve got craniosacral this morning and I intend to leave my masks at the door and just be how it is. Hope you get through the day in one piece. Big hugs xx

      Liked by 3 people

      • SunsetCherryBlossom January 28, 2022 / 9:53 am

        Thanks, my Thursday went well in the end, thanks to the extra breathing space. It’s now Friday, you’ve made it 😊

        Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum January 29, 2022 / 3:25 pm

        Ah fab. So pleased for you. 🙂 I did make it to Friday and was blessed with a very much needed solid and holding session with Anita. I feel way more settled now…and I submitted my tax return so I am very pleased with myself 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Q January 28, 2022 / 12:40 am

    I can so relate to these feelings of overwhelm, the voice that says “I just can’t.” At first, I thought it was weakness to listen to that voice, but now, I agree with you, honoring that is a form of self-care.

    Sending you hugs and good wishes. It will get easier–there is always an ebb and flow. I hope the flow and ease come for you soon.

    Liked by 3 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum January 29, 2022 / 3:27 pm

      I know what you mean. Me too – about the weakness. But now I know that giving myself space and listening to what I need is the best care I can give myself even if it means losing a bit of money here and there or letting people down. Things have got much better towards the end of the week as I had a very good and connected session with A yesterday and it’s settled all the parts that were terrified and thinking something was wrong. x

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sara January 29, 2022 / 2:48 pm

    I think those simple acts of self care, the ones that may not even seem recognizable in the moment, can often be the most powerful and helpful ones.
    Sending hugs and care. 💗

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum January 29, 2022 / 3:21 pm

      I agree. I so needed to allow myself time to breathe this week. If I was employed I would have been off sick the entire week but being self-employed is always a juggling act…there is no financial safety net when you crash and burn x

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sara January 30, 2022 / 1:14 am

        A difficult juggling act for sure. So glad you were able to give yourself that necessary breath this week. 💗

        Liked by 1 person

  6. SH February 5, 2022 / 10:11 am

    I find self care so really difficult too. Workaholic me had to work like a machine (I never ever want to do 24/7 on call again unless I’m well paid for it!) while constantly facing abuse from family…and I burned out catastrophically. Doing nothing can be so very very difficult. I’m still not recovered… fast approaching 3 years of that…but having to work what I can despite being medically certified unfit! All because I don’t know how to rest when I could have, and now I can’t!

    I’ll learn, sometimes doing nothing or doing something leisurely… so hard lol.

    I had a job interview today, which went well, and if hired, I get free yoga classes at the workplace. Maybe maybe it’s a sign from the universe or an unknown deity (for my religious selves within) or maybe it’s the kindness of strangers, as I got the interview when I asked for help in a local “mutual aid” group. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum February 21, 2022 / 4:05 pm

      How did you get on? It’s been so tough on all of you and I am really in aWe of your capacity to keep going. I really hope things work out – y’all deserve it x

      Liked by 1 person

      • SH February 22, 2022 / 10:26 am

        We got the job and shortly after, our landlady relapsed into full blown clinical delusions and started making escalating threats. So we had to flee again but we still have our job.

        Like

  7. LovingSummer February 20, 2022 / 2:03 pm

    “Actually, I have cried, which is really unlike me.”

    Totally get this. It’s a barometer to me how bad things are when a non-crier cries! You’re suspiciously quiet and so I hope you’re okay. Thinking of you 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

      • LovingSummer February 21, 2022 / 3:51 pm

        Oh no! Only you could go away in the worst storm of 30 years! 😄 did you get away in the end? X

        Like

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum February 21, 2022 / 4:03 pm

        Ha. Yeah, I know, right?! It’s was… fucking terrifying taking off, but we got here and it’s 24 degrees and sunny so can’t complain after the last couple of years! I spent last 10 days praying to stay covid free as both kids had it. 😅

        Liked by 1 person

      • SH February 22, 2022 / 10:27 am

        Dang, we’ll pray you get some solid good luck, you absolutely need it.

        Like

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