I've been trying something new to me this year. I am attempting to not over-commit myself and not push myself too hard. Last winter I was sick far more than not and was constantly stressed about not just being sick but not being able to get everything done while I was sick. So, this year I've made my schedule a lot less hectic and if I'm feeling really stressed out and run down I'm canceling obligations (within reason) to rest and take care of myself. So far it's been feeling really good and I've been wondering why I didn't do this sooner but today I hit the wall and realized why I'd been pushing myself so hard until I burned my bridges at both ends ... guilt. Huge guilt. Guilt as big as a tyranosaurus and as fast and unreachable as a tachyon.
(side note: my husband used the word "tachyon" yesterday and I absent-mindedly asked, "Is that some sort of animal or some sort of molecule?" It is a sub-atomic particle ... hypothetical of course, but then when I asked if it was an animal I assumed it was hypthetical too ...)
Anyway, I've been going through a lot of emotional angst in my head the last few days with lots of grief I had forgotten from my childhood coming up and dealing with that, plus I'm having a big flare-up of arthritis today and didn't sleep well because everything was aching so much. So, I canceled chaperoning my daughter's class to go see a play this morning as a field trip. My reasoning was that they have more parents than usual going so they don't need me. But still I feel guilty. One of the moms (who has a newborn and four kids!) asked me if I need anything and I felt so unworthy and like I'm being such a bum. Logically, I know that if I'm worn out from the RA I need to take it easy and I need to take care of myself to bring down my stress level (which makes RA worse) and chaperoning on a crowded old school bus to sit in uncomfortable chairs for 2 hours with a bunch of hyper first graders is not taking care of myself. But now I feel sooooooo worthless and pathetic. If I'm not taking care of people I feel like such a loser. I know there is a balance in here that I can find where I have a good work ethic but also take care of myself. It's just very hard to come back from the caretaker/hyper-work-ethic mode of the pendulum.
Our society does not value self-care as a whole. At least not through media sources. The only kind of self-care that I really hear about that is acceptable is consumerism self-care: buying a nice car or cute shoes, going out for a nice dinner or fancy desserts, or splurging on a day at the spa. Just taking time for ones self to rest and be quiet and ground one's self is just so ... weird. Or maybe it's kind of "cool and exotic and Eastern" at best.
So, in the same spirit that I was a little punk rocker in suburban Burien back in 1984, I will rebel and take care of myself with impunity. Without buying new clothes or spending money I don't have on an over-priced spa. By taking the time I need to rest and be quiet and work through some feelings and not push myself when my RA is acting up.