Relationships, as my last few posts have pointed out, can be hard and confusing. There is no one true method on how they are supposed to work. This is because no two people are the same. We perceive situations differently, we learn from our lessons in our own way, and we react, based on those situations, very differently. Often, we get so caught up in the relationship that we forgot we need some time for ourselves. We should know what we need to be whole, even with just ourselves. Sadly, we aren’t taught this nearly as often as we should be and as we grow, we are often made to feel that focusing on ourselves is a bad thing. Healing is a solo effort, knowing how we think can only be accomplished by us. No one else will ever understand who we are, if at first, we don’t understand ourselves.
“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.” ~ Deborah Day
I know some of you may be thinking that this is some new age psychobabble and probably not work the time it took you to click the link. That is your right, but I ask why are you so quick to refute the concept? Knowing why we react the way we do to situation and taking time to understand ourselves allows us to better understand and interact with other people. It is all about communication and yes, communicating with yourself. Check out the article titled 22 Ways to Practice Emotional Self-Care and Letting Go. There are some very good point in here, for us. Being a person who is often very hard on themselves, there are some things that ring very true for me in this article. One is being aware of the language you use when you say things to yourself. The emotions we have are very much tied to the inner dialogues we have with ourselves.
Another that is important is learning how to have boundaries. Those boundaries can be learning that there are things you cannot control and therefore do not need to accept blame or commit energy to them. Learning when to say no to people is also an important boundary. Giving everyone else out time takes away from the time we need to give to ourselves These are more of the emotional side of self-care and are the foundations that we should start with. When we assess what we need, understand how we relate to ourselves, and make conscious efforts to make better choices, it allows us to see where our other needs may lie and make it easier to start making those changes as well.
As LGBTQ people, the stress we go through is different than our heterosexual counterparts. With the current administration working tirelessly to remove protections and laws that have been put in place, it causes an increasing amount of stress. For a few short-lived years, we were able to feel comfortable in our communities. While there was still violence and hatred, there were balances that had been passed by previous administration to help offset it. We saw the repeal of DOMA and the approval of gay marriage in all of the United States. Conversely, with this administration, we are seeing a rise in hate groups, speech, and violence against our people. Some of it is beyond our control, for sure, and taking a stand can increase the stress we feel. So, how do we manage. Amanda Malamut wrote an article called A Queer Girl’s Guide to Self-Care, Because We Could Use Some Serious Stress Relief and it can be found on HelloGiggles.com. It definitely has a lot of queer positive information for all of us. One of the strongest points she makes is being true to your gay self. At the very root of a lot of problems we face is having to decide when it is safe for us to be who we are, who to share it with, and when we need to duck and cover. This small statement pushes us to realize that it is much more liberating and freeing to just be who we are. Wear that Pride Pen with pride. It allows a shift in our mindset that we do not have to hide, and it is perfectly acceptable to be ourselves no matter where we go. We often feel isolated in the areas we live in, even in large cities we sometimes see ourselves as islands in a stream, that there aren’t others of us out there. One way to change that mindset and start learning different LGBTQ world views is to read more literature, listen to more music, and watch TV shows or movies by LGBTQ creators.
She also talks about growing our queer friend pool, not only does it create a network of people that can offer support, it also gives you more examples to use in your life and develop new mindsets about the world and our interactions, at large. And who doesn’t need more support in their world. Whether your need from self-care stems for toxic relationships, dating troubles, or feeling alone, having more queer friends can change our perspective. These are people who understand the dynamics we go through and talking can help us detach from those feelings to see where we need to change. Sometimes it’s that detachment is the best way to put problems in perspective and to see how they affect us.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare,”~ queer feminist author Audre Lord
It is important for us to take a step away from things in our lives. Whether it be relationships or the trials of daily existence, we need the break. Loving ourselves and maintaining self-care is important to our healthy existence, but it is also important to realize that some days you are just barely getting by, emotionally. That is, often times, enough as it allows us to get through the day and move on to a better one. It is important that we learn to realize that taking care of ourselves is not being selfish, it is normal and needed. After all, you are the most important person in in the shaping of your life. To live healthy in mind, body, and soul. So, start by taking a look at and listen to how you talk to yourself.