I require care.
It is safe to require care.
It is safe to receive care.
Imperfect action is more than enough.
The water is pooling upon the surface of the brittle, cracked earth again. You forgot to water it, and then days passed while you were busy tending to other things. When you finally got around to it, you found the soil hardened and impenetrable. You wondered if watering was even worth the effort.
It can be challenging to receive when you have been going without, steeling yourself and building walls to block the achy protest of your needs. You might “rest,” but while you are resting, you are beating yourself up for being lazy and unable to get more done. You find you are more exhausted after resting than you were before, so why bother? You might try to clear a day for your own care, only to find you have no idea what to do with yourself, a feeling so challenging you load your schedule again to avoid having to deal with it.
You are the brittle earth, and you are the watering can.
You thrive with consistent, tender care. You want your needs to matter, but you haven’t been showing up to do the damn thing you hunger for. Everything feels too baked in and stuck. Your needs and wants feel hazy and untrustworthy. It feels easier to just keep moving than to slow down and let it all catch up with you.
This is why traditional self-care doesn’t soothe the ache. It pools on the surface, and it can be a struggle to get past our initial disappointment when it doesn't work perfectly and immediately, creating a pattern of not caring for ourselves. We try to gulp from a firehose of care when care is urgently needed and then blame ourselves for not being able to receive the piecemeal care we offer ourselves.
Self-care is about healing what is keeping us stuck and disconnected from ourselves by taking the time to patiently check in with ourselves and respond to whatever feelings or needs present themselves. If you are unwilling to challenge the beliefs that underpin a life that is so busy you don’t have time to hydrate yourself, it doesn’t matter how many life hacks for drinking more water you learn.
Self-care is about asking yourself: What do I need to bring the fullest, most alive version of myself to this day? What does my body need from me? How can I meet these needs in a way that is DOABLE for me today?
When it comes to our own care, something is always, always, always better than nothing. This is how we replenish our own brittle earth consistently and sustainably—one drop at a time.
Excerpted from Needy: How to Advocate for Your Needs and Claim Your Sovereignty by Mara Glatzel, MSW.