The past few days I have been taking time for myself, staying away from social media, and generally starting on my decorations. With taking time for myself comes an incredible guilt like no other, it’s the complete last thing that I want to do because the whole process of looking after yourself is completely new to me.
It may have been stamped into me through childhood, the single daughter in a Catholic family who was obliged to care for her disabled parents. I was always putting everyone else’s needs first, I could be in the middle of doing something which I would stop immediately and go to help someone else with whatever it was they needed.
I think this is a great quality to have but it really has hurt my mental health over the years, not knowing how to take care of myself as I am too busy helping others is a breeding ground for anxiety and depression. When your not looking after yourself or really don’t know how too, the guilt seeps into your subconscious and before you know it you don’t even know how to ask for help.
I was the person who provided the care, it should be easy to care for myself, but its really the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I see someone else has a problem and I instantly know how to fix it, but when it’s me that needs help I don’t know how that works. It’s as if my brain has been programmed to constantly look outside of myself, and self-care is just too new a concept for it.
My therapist is working on this with me but right now I’m not so good at loving myself, any little action I do to make me feel better just comes with the crushing guilt that I don’t deserve to be cared for, I care for others. If anyone tries to help me I feel guilty, because I should be able to help myself.
It seems like a lose-lose situation, if I look after myself I’m guilty, if someone tries to look after me I’m guilty. The circle of shame has not been broken quite yet, but if I am lucky and keep going it may eventually fracture completely.
One can only hope.