What does it take for you to care for yourself?
I didn’t care about myself for waaay too long. I often remember waking up after a night out drinking and I couldn’t remember how I had got home, what had happened or whether I had done something I would regret. I was usually covered in bruises – standard after a night out, being the particularly clumsy person I am.
Over the years I had far too many ‘accidents’ from nights out drinking (not always caused by me, but not helped by me either) – I’ve fallen in the shower, fallen flat on the pavement, lost a toe nail, had stitches in my foot, had bruises covering large parts of my body and more.
In addition to this I suffered from daily debilitating diarrhoea, I had started taking taxis to and from work in case I had to use the bathroom suddenly. I was overweight, totally uninspired by life and was living a work hard, play hard existence fuelled with alcohol at night and processed foods in the day.
Even now it makes me sad thinking about the point I had got to and what I accepted as my reality.
But I was addicted to the release and escape I found in drinking. I didn’t know how to get out of the life I had created for myself. I felt trapped and powerless to change it. I would try and stop drinking for a few weeks, resume exercising and I would notice some changes – I would start to feel a bit better, perhaps drop a couple of pounds and there would be a glimmer of hope in the distance. Maybe I did like myself a bit, maybe there was hope things could change… But then as soon as this feeling came I would self-sabotage and go right back to drinking and partying, and the light would fade and I’d be back in the vicious cycle I had created for myself.
It was only when a family member who I love dearly got a life-threatening illness that something in me clicked. My instinct told me that in order to help I needed to heal myself. This seemed totally counterintuitive but the feeling was so strong and I so badly wanted to help that this is what I started to do. I stopped drinking the following weekend and cut out all processed foods, I even signed up for a yoga class, which I had been meaning to do for years!
I continued this way for two months and this is when things really started to shift in my life for the first time ever. I started to make small choices in favour of my own self-care like choosing to have a night in instead of a night at the pub, or prioritising a yoga class on the weekend where before I would have been in bed hungover. I stopped feeling like I was missing out and started to tune into what my body and mind wanted and how I was feeling. It was all very new to me. I found the confidence to do a two-day life coaching event, something I never would have done with my whole weekend when I was drinking, and signed up for another course which started me on my path to where I am today. I even started to like my body, which is a whole other story ;-).
Since then I have gone through phases of reverting to old habits and self-sabotaging on occasion, but never to the extent where I was at for so many years before. That first time of really beginning to care about myself set me on a new path, which meant each time I fell back into an old pattern I pulled myself out of it faster. I know how great life is when I put my self-care first and what radical changes are possible in your life.
It took something outside of me for me to change my life and start to care about me. So if you find it hard to care for yourself, and I know it can be difficult in today’s society as we have so many demands on us, and it can still be seen as selfish, find your ‘something’ and use it as your starting point to self-care. As you start to include more and more self-care in your life – YOU will then become your reason, which is what this is about after all.
What can be a reason, your ‘why’, to help you along your self-care journey? I’d love to know, please reply in the comments.