I’ve had a small health issue crop up this weekend (of a delicate nature, so I’ll kindly spare you the details). At first it was annoying, then worrisome because problems always seem to arise on a long weekend when everything is closed, but eventually I found it soothing when I began to invest in my own care.
As women, we tend to be busy nurturing and caretaking for those we love. Far too often, we ourselves are not on that list. Discomfort or pain tends to bring us back into focus, helping us to figure out how to show love in the form of self-care.
I resented having to search out remedies for the physical problem I was experiencing. It took time away from other things I wanted to be doing. But implementing what I learned to solve a problem I’d never had before forced me to slow down and nurture myself the way I would a sick child.
It was a healing exercise. I needed to be the sick child that my own adult self made time to look after. It reminded me that I am important. When our bodies throw up a white flag, crying out for attention, it’s necessary for us to listen. We are not machines, as much as I long to be, where nothing ever goes wrong. We get tired, or sick, or we age and face certain indignities that must be addressed.
I used to have zero tolerance for physical weakness, in myself or in anyone else. Heaven help my poor kids or husband five years ago when they were sick, as I wrote it off as a character flaw. Coming to terms with my own inherent worth helped to cure me of this abhorrence of any illness or pain. I see now that this disdain for human vulnerability was a survival tactic in my alcoholic childhood home, where competition was a bloodsport that only the strong could endure.
I see vulnerability differently now. I know that it reveals strength, not frailty. I can no longer afford to expect so much from myself or from others. I must employ gentleness in mannerisms, speech, actions. I want to model for my kids that when something hurts, we should slow down and listen. We must make our health a priority, in all areas, and look after ourselves with love and mercy.
I could do without this annoying condition, but it has helped me to recognize that my physical body needs my care as much as my mental, spiritual and emotional needs do. I can slow down and care for what is damaged and in need of rest. I can love myself enough to care for all of me.