When my children were babies and they were upset, my first instinct would be to hold them. And I didn’t always ascertain the source of their tears. I think sometimes they just wanted to be held. To cry and release whatever they were feeling. And know they would be held.
I think that is what self-care should look like.
When I think of self-care, I imagine bubble baths, warm cups of tea, a bouquet of flowers or walk along the beach.
But too often, self-care looks more like self-cure. I don’t like what I am feeling, become particularly frustrated if it is a recurring painful thought or emotion, and see this current predicament as an obstacle to all the things I really need to get done.
But real self-care has no agenda. Real self-care is present with all the wounds, and it says, I will be here for as long as it takes. As John O’Donohue writes in his poem “On Loneliness”, cradle yourself like a child, learning to trust what emerges.
Maybe it’s time to take those same loving arms that know how to hold another and throw them around ourselves. Let ourselves cry. For however long. For whatever reason. And maybe in the wisdom of those tears, we will hear a voice wanting to be heard.