I used to be really good at listening to myself, in balancing the time between “living the life” and taking a step back and take care of myself. I used to spend nights at home with candlelight and a good book, I used to take myself out for a nice lunch or dinner, I used to paint, sketch and write, I used to dance around the house in my underwear, I used to meditate and do yoga, I used go on long walks on the beach or cycle to a different city. I used to know when it was time for me to disappear from my work and friends and do whatever it was I really wanted to do at that moment. Last year, when everything went wrong with my family, my mom and sister ended up with a burnout, and I thought, this will never happen to me, because I listen to myself, I’m in control.
But then, without me noticing, I stopped listening to myself. Instead of feeling the emotions of missing my grandpa, or the anger of me having a gene that significantly increases the chance of me having a heart attack before I’m fifty, I started running away. I started with working a lot, quickly eat, go to the gym for a couple of hours and make myself so tired that by the time I got home around 22.30 or 23.00 I could do nothing else then falling asleep. In the weekends I would spend one day taking care of my parents and grandma, and the other day with laundry, cleaning, sports and cooking. I kept myself busy, every minute of each day, because if I would stop I would feel and the feelings would be too much. In almost a year I did not read any book, I did not meditate, I did not allow myself nice food, I just did not relax and listen to myself. And the weird thing is, I did not notice, I thought I was doing what I really wanted to do, that I was giving myself the self-love I needed.
Now I’m at a point without any self-love. I can not remember the last time I went for a shower, the last time I ate or the last time I cuddled with my rabbit. I just tried to read because I know I love reading but I could not even finish 3 sentences. I can not be in my house because it was the place I felt happiest, and now it just reminds me of what I lost, the dead plants and the mess around me show me how I did not love myself, how I let go of what was important for me. It hurts to admit that I am so far from the person I am, and it will be even harder to start loving myself again. It means not just start doing the things I used to love doing, first I have to face myself, apologize to myself, figure out what I need right now. I know that I won’t be going to work for at least a week, and the thought of this both scares me and makes me feel relieved. I know I need this time, but without work I can no longer hide or run away from myself. I have to face my pain, my feelings and emotions and let them be there, feel them. Self-love starts with listening to myself, allowing my true feelings to take over and by feeling them I will find a way to deal with them and get a little closer to myself again.
For now I’ll try to hang on to Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay: questions to ask before giving up by Eponis Sinope. Maybe following this checklist will make me feel a little better about myself and gets me a step closer to loving myself once again.