Friday, 5 April 2013

When you gonna love you as much as i do?

I was recently reading Love,Joy,Feminism. and the concept of JOY, (Jesus first, Others second, You last) came up and man did it resonate with me. We didn't call it that when I was growing up but that was exactly how we supposed to live, especially if we were girls. Except in practice what it meant was that I was taught never ever to think about myself, never to think about my own needs. I was never supposed to do anything nice for myself because that meant taking time away from serving others. And in this context "doing anything nice" wasn't just about treating myself it was about looking after and paying attention to my emotional and physical needs.

While growing up it was stressed time and time again that anything I did for myself was "selfish" or "thoughtless" or was a product of my "pride." So I never learnt that I mattered, that looking after myself was important, that using my time to do things that I enjoyed and that made me feel good was ever acceptable

And even after all these years I still don't believe it's okay to do nice things for myself or even look after myself. I eat things that I know will make me feel bad, I don't let myself sleep properly or on a proper cycle. I fritter away time watching crap tv or just mooching around the house because I still feel that actively doing something that I like such as writing or reading or eating good food or swimming or researching stuff I'm interested in or just sitting in the sunshine, or making crafts that are not directly connected to my job,or taking long hot baths, make me a bad person.I still somehow believe that wanting to do and doing these things is a product of my "self love" which in an evangelical frame work is a terrible sinful thing, because people, especially women and children, are sinful and fallen and don't deserve love, they are only loved through Gods magnanimous grace.

Leaving the evangelical community and finding feminism gave me a new framework to think about myself as a person of worth as a person who matters and deserves to look after herself but even so it's still emotionally hard to believe I am worth looking after by myself because those messages ran so deep. Even outside of an evangelical community we still live in a culture that expects women to look after everyone else before themselves, that thinks of womens emotional and physical needs as an unimportant afterthought.

And this is doing me no good, it leaves me unfocused, it exacerbates my mental health issues. Refusing to care about myself or look after myself reinforces those old messages even as I try to dismantle them Also there's an element of fear because somewhere inside I feel that really believing that I matter, will unleash all the rage I am holding back, because knowing I matter means that all the abuse I suffered was not okay, was not because I deserved it. But I have to do this. I have to at least behave like I matter and I think behaving like I deserve to look after and care for myself will help me start believing it on an emotional level. And I'm going to start with little things. I'm going to be in bed by 11 every night with a mug of Ovaltine, because I love it, and an episode of Buffy.


Nicola McCarthy said...

I so agree. For me, being a young mother made me realise that you cannot possibly look after other people effectively unless you look after yourself - and then eventually I learned that you should look after yourself anyway, not just in order to look after others, but to be able to make the most of life and the opportunities that come your way!

Anonymous said...

It's so hard to change these habits. Catholicism isn't usually as hardcore as Evangelical Protestantism, but it does teach you that self-denial and suffering is virtuous. I've found this hugely damaging. I remember being told to "offer it up" all the time when I was a kid. I think it was a big factor in my developing an eating disorder, among other problems.

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