I’ve made occasional reference to the fact that I have MDD*, and spoken about how it impacts my ability to care for myself. I’ve also told you about self-care being an essential part of Dark Flame work…and so I thought I’d do something different this time around. Instead of dealing with abstracts, I’m going to take you through a recent day of mine and give you an idea of how my woofits manifest.
Last Wednesday, I woke up not wanting to go to therapy. There’s nothing really unusual about that, except for the fact that I’m not used to feeling it – my previous therapist, whom I stopped seeing in September, lasted almost five years, and for some reason I enjoyed going to see her even though I didn’t really like the work we were doing. Anyway, I’ve got a new therapist and we’re working on what I like to call my last monster – my relationship with food – and I absolutely hate it. With a capital H, HATE it.
So, I woke up hating things, went downstairs and fed cats, and ate breakfast. Since my last monster has to do with food, and emotional eating for self-medication purposes, I obsess over what I eat and meals are a struggle. I fought with myself briefly, then ate a lovely bowl of granola with unsweetened almond milk (tastes good and is filling, thereby leading me away from hunger.) Of course, self-medication has little to do with hunger.
I worked all morning, going back and forth about whether I was going to go to therapy or call out with an excuse, but I ended up going. On the way, I ran through a drive-through and got fast food french fries, which is my classic I need comfort; must eat the things food. I was in a state that (I believed) could only be assuaged by salt and grease…and it was mighty tasty, despite the pangs of guilt and the shoulding all over myself that occurred later. In the grand scheme of things, driving through occasionally isn’t going to kill me, but it plays right into my endless cycle of “I don’t like myself-I’m too fat-I’ll eat to feel better-YUM-oh gods, I ate food shame shame SHAME-rinse-repeat” thing I’ve got going on.
I went into therapy and lambasted new therapist for giving me eating tips when I know what I should be doing, but I allow the emotional need for comfort to overcome, and what I need is something I can do when the urge becomes overwhelming and and AND…and she listened. New therapist listened, and asked questions, and then pointed out that my need to eat for comfort is (most likely) related to series of emotional things I’m carrying around in addition to a lifelong habit of “sneak” eating that I’m no longer active enough to do without physical consequences.
She then reminded me that eating for comfort is probably preferable to drinking for comfort, and I felt a little better, but my head was filled with self-loathing and guilt and I argued with myself all the way back home. I didn’t go through another drive-through, nor did I buy and eat ALL THE POTATO CHIPS but instead sat with the fact that I am not taking care of myself in the way I think I should.
(There it goes again – shoulding all over myself.)
The rest of the week went without outward manifestation of my feelings about myself. Internally, though, I was as much a wreck as I usually am. This is actually where Baby Steps helps – even when I’m in super meltdown mode I can (usually) find something small to do for myself. I did manage to bathe/shower when I needed to, and I did manage to get dressed, and I did brush my teeth every day, and all of these things, small though they are, count as self-care and nurture of my Dark Flame, so the week wasn’t totally lost. Still, going back to Baby Steps time after time feels like a letdown; funnily enough, though, I encourage others to count their Baby Steps as real things (they are, after all!) but I don’t always remember to pat myself on the back for putting shoes on.
I consider myself a pretty good FlameKeeper as things go (although my guru might disagree!) but after three (four?) years as a practitioner I still have trouble remembering that the small things I do count as action, and that self-care is religious work, and that work on myself improves things around me…but it makes sense. If we are all Divine, work on one of us is work on the Divine and, therefore, work on us all. The things I do for myself help to strengthen community, and strengthening community improves the Universe, and so it goes. Perhaps I need a Post-It to remind me.
We are all Divine, and as we grow and change the Universe grows and changes. As we work on ourselves, we work on everything around us; as we know ourselves, we gain knowledge about our connections to others. All parts of us, and of others, are parts of the Divine – our joys and sorrows, our selflessness and selfishness, our ins and outs. This means our woofits are Divine as well and, as such, it behooves us to work with them.