Self-Care in the Writing Process

I am currently holed up in a Panera clutching a tea to my chest, desperately inhaling the wisps of steam like I am an addict chasing my high. And, I kind of am in a way. An addict to tea, I mean.

This past week I have been fighting off this tickle in my throat that graduated to a full-blown cold that has left my body aching, my head fuzzy and my throat perpetually making these disgusting involuntary gurgle noises that completely cancel out the somewhat sexy, husky voice that this God forsaken cold has given me.

My dog is out at the groomer and in day care so I decided to loiter around and try and get some work done since I literally went to work this past week and came back each day immediately to pass out in bed with my bottle of NyQuil next to me. Thursday morning I even woke up wearing the same clothes, including one shoe that I hadn’t managed to kick off before running into my bed.

I mean, I get sick every year. I have the immune system of a baby and I would actually probably thrive living in a bubble. I also am terrible with self-care and I run myself ragged so that when I do get sick, I get hit hard.

And I know it’s not just me, either. I think this is the fate of a lot of women. We ignore the tickles in our throats, the head aches, the slight lower back pain until it becomes unbearable and someone forces us to go to the doctor. We put ourselves last and soldier on because, and I know I don’t speak for all women here, just around the 99.7% I know, we are terrified of letting people down.

Like, terrified.

I carry an enormous amount of responsibility on my shoulders in both my personal and professional lives. And because no one can do anything as well I can do it, or they aren’t as invested as I am, I insist on doing projects on my own. I suck at delegating because I am a type-A perfectionist and with a super unhealthy mindset that, if I don’t just do it myself, it won’t get done or it won’t get done right.

And this leads to my complete unraveling because then when I am down for the count, because there aren’t people who can easily step into my shoes, I feel like I am disappointing everyone by being sick. It’s messed up and irrational and something that hopefully therapy can help me get over, but it’s how I feel. And I think that because I am such a reliable person, when I get an email from my work that says “It would have gone a lot better had you been here”, I read into that 1,000% and hear “You weren’t here, everything sucked, it’s your fault.” So yeah, some therapist is going to get their money’s worth when I finally make the time for myself to get to therapy (example 142 of me neglecting my self-care).

Committing myself to finishing these books and holding myself accountable has been one of the most challenging aspects of this process. I constantly push my writing off because I need to finish a work project, make a phone call, volunteer for a few hours… And in that, I am neglecting myself and my self-care. I love writing. I love escaping into my stories and crafting new worlds and characters. Why am I sacrificing basic things to keep myself happy for others? Why can’t I let go of that deafening voice in my head telling me I need to do more for others and flip the script that I need to do more for myself?

So, yeah, I haven’t done any writing all week because I put off taking care of myself. I ate breakfast in my car to get to work an hour early to finish projects, I skipped lunch to attack my unread emails and I spent my evenings catching up on chores and volunteer projects and work emails rather than taking time to spend with my dog, or my husband or to go to the gym, take a walk. So that is my goal going forward- focusing on myself a bit more, letting go of what I can’t control and focusing on what really matters at the end of the day. Here goes nothing.

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