Right after Dad died and again during his memorial people kept telling me to take care of myself. People also seemed fond of saying this to me while I was at university and when I worked retail. Prior to university I always felt like the person telling me to take care of myself was really saying, “I care about you, but not enough to inconvenience myself with figuring out how I might be able to help you… So, you do what you need to do to fix yourself, because you’re obviously in some kind of mess.” Uncharitable, I know, but I try to be honest here.
At university I wanted nothing more than to take care of myself. However, just wanting and needing something doesn’t make it so. I read quite a bit on the internet about how one might undertake this often-recommended task of taking care of one’s self. The consensus seemed to be that it was highly idiosyncratic, but that I might try scented lotions and bubble baths. I really did try, but I just couldn’t figure out the mechanics. Ultimately I ended up feeling like a failure.
I’m still not certain that I know how to take care of myself. What I do have a much better grasp on now is not caring when it’s important for my health to not care. I’d like to think I’ve also gotten better at knowing what to care about, although that’s probably mostly attributable to Dad’s illness and subsequent death. And since I’m being so honest, I’m not sure how helpful knowing how to take care of one’s self is, but I can tell you from experience how freeing it feels to decide to just let go.