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Self-Care is Not Selfish

When I was invited to participate in this blog … I was so thrilled. The suggested topics of discussion were so relatable to my daily life that I wanted to start blogging the very same day. However, as I contemplated where to begin…I started questioning whether anyone would be interested in what I wanted to say?!! You see, I grew up in a society that socialized women to only speak when absolutely necessary. A society that defined caregiving as a gender role hence women’s work. I wrestled with this concept and went through a self-examination about what I wanted to say and how to say it. 🤦🏾‍♀️ Questioned what experiences would be (is) acceptable to share in a blog!! What qualifies me to speak about self-care; emotional support etc? Ahhh 😌 😌I realized that this is an opportunity to share my personal story - in which am not only the main star but also the expert … and perhaps some of my experiences would start a conversation especially with those dealing with similar struggles.

I am in my fifties. I am a mother to two young adults; a daughter who loves and hates me simultaneously; and a son who believes life would stop if I ever went away. My daughter lives in the west end..approximately 2 hours from our family home. My son still lives at home content with the current situation. He has been identified as MID - mild intellectual disability. But to me he is uniquely qualified to be loving. Some believe he will always require the support of a family member.

I am a divorcee; I have 20 years of service in law enforcement; I am involved in a relationship that has become stagnant with the same partner (male) for 17 years. It’s complicated!!

My strengths can also be described as my weaknesses. I work in a “thankless and very stressful” job not to mention incredibly demanding of absolute alertness. I cannot recall the last time I switched off my work mindset because it’s the nature of the job. I crave detoxing the vicarious trauma endured over the years…which sadly continues daily. This is not to complain but I am a 24/7 emotional support bottomless human. Lol!! Sounds horrid.

Well…. after reading all that you must wonder how I continue to function?! One of my strengths is resilience. I function really well in chaotic situations. I suppose it’s a survival instinct. You know what I mean? The rationale for moving forward is (like the energizer bunny) “you got to get going”.

As indicated, I grew up believing that caregiving is women’s work. Which translated into self-sacrifice…putting everyone else’s needs before self. Now for many caregivers this is their reality - as it can be difficult to separate how it is and (what) it should be. In earnest, there have been days where I have felt bombarded with it all...and felt that self-care was time wasted. Not so. Allocating time for ME to recharge (refuel) has always created a healthy balance enabling ME to feel more energized hence giving my best to those in my care.

My quick go to for self-care (like most caregivers) has been turning to a close circle of friends. Now I say this with a caution- that it is best to limit this group to one or two confidants. Preferably one trustworthy person. Fortunately I have found that in one such a person… Kerry. Realistically not everyone will find that someone who is compassionate and wise beyond their years but I pray that you do.

Certainly a vacation or a staycation would be lovely or ideal - but it isn’t always possible for most caregivers. Therefore the go to are those easily accessible strategies that we can incorporate into our daily lives such as taking a short walk, meditation, listening to a podcast or finding that one confidant who you can vent to and vice versa. Believe me talk can be very therapeutic.

It’s my experience that most caregivers hardly have time for self-care. As a matter of fact for most 1st generation immigrants the term self-care is a foreign concept. They run from paid work to unpaid work like it’s the “norm” and hardly have time to put their feet up. However it is my sincerest belief that taking care of our mind and body adds health, wealth and tranquility to all involved. It's also worth noting that regular self-care will make you happy and reduce stress.

Again, this is just my personal opinion. Please let me know your thoughts 😊

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