Last Sunday, I spent pretty much the whole day binge-watching Netflix, playing jigsaws on my phone, and drinking wine. It was lovely. Utterly enjoyable, in fact. And at the end of it all, I was rested and ready to go on Monday morning.
But allowing myself to spend a day on myself (and doing what I wanted) would have been unthinkable even only a few months ago. For the longest time—even after I cut contact with my family—I was constantly trying to prove myself. Trying to prove to the world (but mainly to myself) that I wasn’t lazy, undisciplined, and whatever other crap ideas about myself that my family had brainwashed me into believing. It wasn’t uncommon for me to be in 100% full swing up until the point of collapse due to complete exhaustion!
This constant pattern of overdoing it, collapsing, recovering—and then starting the whole thing all over again—was neither good for me, nor my partner. Not to mention the toll it was taking on my work and the projects I was working so hard on. I was living in a cycle of extremes. Every area of my life—housekeeping, work, volunteering, writing, and hanging out with friends—was affected by my ups and downs, backs and forths.
It dawned on me one day—after yet another crash and burn—that surely it has to be okay, even commendable, to rest. To actually stop, sit, and relax a little every day. Maybe even sometimes even an entire day. It occurred to me that going to the park, a museum, enjoying an overpriced herbal tea, or simply getting that luscious expensive shampoo are not over-indulgent activities; signs of laziness, entitlement or greed. They make me feel good. They make me feel nurtured. And they they reenergise me so that I can cope with the obligations and responsibilities that I have to attend to as an adult in this busy world. And, as such, they are acts of self-care.
In order to keep our internal engines running, we need to fill it up regularly. We can’t keep driving until we stall and need to walk 10 miles for the nearest filling station. It’s just not sustainable. Or very self-compassionate.