self values in culture. The Puritan work ethic was embedded in
my mindset. The “Give your all and sacrifice until it hurts”
messages resounded within. Most forms of self-care felt selfish
and somehow wrong to me.
I love massages and find them very relaxing. They
soothe both my body and anxiety prone mind. But whenever I
thought about caring for myself in this way, the anti self-care
messages in my head cranked up to high volume. When I did
allow myself to actually get on the massage table, I would take
pains to hide it from others. In the early days of my self-care
conversion, I told one mental health therapist that I had begun
to schedule monthly massages. She was privy to the details of
our challenging family life and suggested that it might make
more sense for me to have weekly massage appointments. That
felt much too indulgent. Simmering and sometimes
overwhelming guilt arose whenever I participated in something
that even resembled caring for myself. A change of heart and
mind had now become a necessity.
The reality is that anyone involved in caretaking must
prioritize care of self if they desire to live as a healthy human
being. Each and every parent falls into the definition of
caretaker. And during times of intensive and stressful care of
others, the need for such cushion and space becomes even
more critical. Despite my adept denial ability, I was clearly
involved in intense and complex parenting during these days.
Yet I still clung to my old “I can handle it all” mindset. The
falling apart of my body, emotions, and spirit was a deep and
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