I haven’t been in the mood to write lately (okay, for the past month), and you’ve probably noticed Billy’s been picking up the slack. Every time I sit down to flesh out an idea or share our new posts on social media I’m only able to spew out a few good sentences before my brain cuts out. I think my emotions have completely taken over and I’m finding it hard to think about anything other than the long road we now know is ahead of us.
You see, a couple weeks ago we found out that our 3rd IUI attempt did not work, again confirming our fears that our only option at having a child ourselves is now IVF. And with being overloaded at work and overloaded with all that comes with starting up a new blog I decided I just needed to turn off the ignition for a few days (which turned into weeks). Normally I would be upset with myself about not following through on another decision I’ve made (sorry #NaBloPoMo challenge), but after a conversation I had last week with a colleague, I feel okay with my decision.
I work in higher education and consult faculty on designing engaging online courses. Last Tuesday I was all set to begin talking assignment revisions with one of my instructors (let’s call her Kathy) and I started the call with the traditional “how are you doing?” greeting. In a refreshing change, Kathy relayed to me the whirlwind details of what she had been dealing with in the past week, and eventually the conversation came around to infertility. Kathy revealed she and her husband had been struggling for several years now and, after being told her body could never support a baby, had come to embrace adoption as their route to having a family. When I confided that we too were facing a similar path, Kathy’s first question to me was if I was practicing self-care.
Hmmm…self-care…I’m not sure. That’s was definitely an unfamiliar term. As she went on to talk about the ways she worked to guard her emotions and show love to herself, I thought about the strategies I was employing to keep myself from experience more pain: avoiding Facebook and Instagram; avoiding pregnant friends and friends with newborns; avoiding TV shows with babies in the storylines…and the list goes on.
Avoid, avoid, avoid. That’s been my main strategy, and I’m starting to wonder if this approach is this really the best way to show love to myself during this trying time. I’m not saying I need to stop avoiding these situations – from experience I’ve realized this is necessary otherwise I shatter into a million pieces, but it won’t take me the distance and keep me trucking through the twists and turns we are about to face. Recognizing your limits is important, and I’m proud I am respecting myself in that regard.
But I’m concerned about the whole showing love to myself part. I don’t even know where to begin. I was never taught to love myself. Years of undiagnosed misophonia resulted in a world where I was yelled at for being selfish and told I couldn’t show love to others. I came to see any act of loving yourself—including acknowledging your strengths and accomplishments—as negative and self-indulgent. In the end I decided to strive for humility (or what I thought was humility) in the areas of my life I thought could actually control.
So I think now’s as good a time as any to begin my journey to try to love myself and practice self-care for the first time. I’ve done a little research online and have found a few good resources that seem like a good point as I begin my journey:
- 25 Science-Backed Ways to Change Your Life by Taking Better Care of Yourself (greatist.com)—As the title implies, this articles gives 25 suggestions for practicing self-care on a daily basis. I’m pretty good already at #12 (Swear it off) and #13 (Indulge in some retail therapy), but #5 (Stress less) and #6 (Be mindful) may be more challenging.
- 10 Ways To Strengthen Your Self-Care And Self-Love Practices (thoughtcatalog.com)—Author Shahida Arabi gets real, outlining ways you need to start changing your life in order to practice self-love. Her words on validating your feelings has stuck with me—and I’m learning not to apologize for feeling the way I feel. It’s okay that I’m angry and upset, that I get frustrated and sad. However, showcasing these emotions constructively…well, let’s just say I’m still a beginner.
- The Internet Wants to Help You Take Care of Yourself (theatlantic.com)—Okay, maybe it’s not the Internet, but people out there realizing that we just need to start taking care of ourselves. I tried the interactive mentioned in the article—and for the most part think this would be pretty helpful for someone beginning self-care. But I came to a halt when I got to the section encouraging me to deal with the sources of my anxiety. 15 minutes won’t take away my fears that IVF won’t work, and it won’t take away my misophonia vs. having a career, apprehensions that have become a daily struggle. In the end, I’m not ready to spend time connecting to these emotions and still need to fill my life with distractions in order to get by.
- The Importance of Self-Care – TedTalks Playlist (ted.com)—Unlike Billy, I’m not all that into TedTalks. I mean, when you edit lecture videos for a living it’s kinda the last thing I want to watch when I’m off the clock. But since I am now in the pursuit of self-care I watched a few of these video clips the other day. I particularly liked what Dr. Brown had to say on the power of vulnerability and our fear of being disconnected from one another.