Self care can include pampering, but many people (like me) who did not grow up with any kind of care, (self or any other kind), it is easy to confuse the words “self care” with “pampering”. Well into my painful and confusing journey towards self care I confused these two things almost all the time, and it caused a great deal of anxiety and frustration for both my psychologists and myself.
I kept thinking that self care meant having one’s hair or nails done, with spending time on “over and above” grooming and so on… all things that are are scary and frightening for me, even though I didn’t know why or how they were so scary I just knew that for me they were.
Therefore when my psychologists talked about self care, instead of me calmly thanking them for their advice and heading off to have a facial with my best buddy, my anxiety soured even more, I felt even less understood than ever, and I became even more confused and felt even more different and isolated.
I needed to be safe and free and to find my voice, not to add more and more things in my life that scared me. Pampering for many people I am sure is a great way to self care. It combines time out, silence, massage, smells, luxury, and often a whole lot of rest. For me on the other hand (and maybe others?) it is touch that scares us, intimacy that comes too close, tense bodies that are put into the care and control of others, soothing words that are often “put on” rather than real, and an atmosphere that is foreign.
It didn’t help that because of my as yet undiagnosed EDS (Mah Eeds), the few times that I have been to any kind of beauty place, waxing burnt my skin, manicures left my fingers bleeding and ultimately infected, and the only massage I’ve ever subjected myself to, left me sore and a bone dislocated. Pampering for me simply isn’t the same thing as Self Care, even though I am sure that for many it can very much be a part of it.