I bruise pretty easily.
There’s usually a moment after I accidentally walk into something where I think to myself, ‘Yep, that’s going to bruise later’. After some time passes, you can feel the soreness set in, and not too much later, the colors start to show. Black and Blue. Or in my case, Purple.
Many of us do a good job of acknowledging that there’s pain because we can quickly locate it because of that bruise. We can identify the source of that pain, and sometimes we can even remember exactly how we acquired it. But what about the pain you can’t see? What about those bruises?
Though I didn’t realize it at first, my weekend was all about self-care. As a sensitive person, I go through a lot of highs and lows depending on whatever is going on in my life and sometimes the best remedy is to do absolutely nothing. Friday’s lousy mood moved right into Saturday morning, so after taking care of my pets and eating some leftovers for breakfast, I crawled right back into bed and slept. I woke up a bit later in early afternoon hours, took care of the pets again, prepared a snack of falafel chips and pretzel chips (it’s all I could find in the pantry), crawled under my couch blanket and watched a movie. I really didn’t get up from the couch very much, so once evening had settled in, I had to make a choice: Do I get off the couch, shower, and go spend some social time with friends? Or do I commit to whatever it was I was doing here? After canceling plans with my friends, I continued to marinate in my sloth like state, interrupting myself only to bake cookies, and then eat several of them.
I admit that when I went to sleep very late that evening, I felt like I had wasted the day.
It wasn’t until I woke up Sunday morning that I realized how valuable my Saturday of hibernation really was for me. Though my energy level didn’t start out particularly high, I did notice that the more accepting I was that I needed Saturday, the easier it was for me to find a path to productivity on Sunday.
I recognized that there was a bruise. Although there were parts of me that felt very ‘self-hatred’ and ‘self-judgment’ oriented, I didn’t shut those parts down. I gave myself some time to feel it and acknowledge it, and then I made room for the other parts that felt ready to invite a different kind of self-care.
A wave of inspiration came over me and I packed a small bag and walked over to the community pool. Despite experiencing some significant body-consciousness, I chose to allow myself to take up space however I needed to, and took my first steps into the pool. After a few laps, I settled into my lounge chair and read for a few hours. On my walk back home I realized that I hadn’t done something like that in a very, very long time. Soon, I felt the urge to do some much-needed laundry, and some mild house cleaning. But none of this felt like a chore! It actually felt like self-care. I took pride in all of it, and by the time evening rolled around, I was ready to leave the house and spend time with loved ones.
This, of course, is a very simplistic example of how self-care can factor into everyday life. Acknowledging the bruise, and feeling the pain is so important, even if there’s no one else who can acknowledge it with you. I tend to isolate myself when I’m in pain because it’s easier for me not to have to consider others. Sometimes that means I have to cancel plans. Sometimes that means I have to sit at home and do absolutely nothing, or eat cookies, or watch Netflix for hours upon hours. But giving yourself permission to take care of your own needs no matter how messy that might look is a first step to finding a path back to a better state of being.
Too often we ignore our needs and push onwards; we ignore the bruise.
So instead I say why not let that bruise be seen, even if it’s just by you? After all, if you let yourself feel it consciously then at least you’ll have some control over how you care for it. The unconscious alternative of letting it handle you isn’t really a recipe for success and it just leads to more unhealed bruises.
Try it! It can’t hurt. 😉