I know that resisting a rest is a terrible pun, but it’s accurate to my life this week. I’m tired. So tired that I would have to check the baggage under my eyes at the airport. So tired that I’ve developed an interesting tic under my eye when I reach a certain level of exhaustion. So tired that I wake up disoriented after I’ve fallen asleep while doing basic tasks. 

I just want to point out that I live in Georgia- the Deep South of the United States. Where some places get covered in snow, we get covered in pollen. My allergies are waging war on me, and yet I just keep going as if everything is fine. 

As an enthusiastic advocate of self-care, it’s interesting that I sometimes find it difficult to be soft with myself. 

To be gentle. To allow myself time to rest. I’m great at scheduling time for a long, candlelit bath with aromatherapy and a facial but maybe bad at just letting myself rest when I need it. 

We could, perhaps, blame it on the stars. 

A Capricorn sun sign, I’m incredibly motivated and hard-working. Anything Type-A in me could simply be this predisposition. 

Or we could blame it on family placement. 

A typical middle child, I was too busy being the peacemaker and caretaker to spend a lot of time taking care of me. My orientation leaned heavily toward caring for everyone else, often at the expense of myself. 

Or we could look at psychological roots. 

Attachment. Codependent behaviors. Poor boundaries. Ineffective communication. 

Or let’s turn the finger of blame to our culture with its worship of productivity and profit at the expense of balance, self-care, and quality time with the people we love. 

Could we place a little blame there for my near inability to just take a time-out when I need one? Sure, we could do that.

I guess I’m just not in the business of blame anymore, although I do find myself curious about the roots of my struggle. 

I explore that less for the need to blame and more for the root cause of the blame and shame I heap on myself for something as basic as needing a little extra sleep or downtime. If I can figure out what’s causing it, I can address those issues directly. I can also make sure that I parent in ways that teach my own children the importance of self-care. 

I don’t want to slow down when I’m sick or when I’m tired. I just want to keep moving at my regular pace. I’ve found that my body just gets worse when I do this. I’m basically making it harder to feel better faster because I won’t just take a break. It’s a little ironic, isn’t it? 

All struggle works this way. We slow our healing with our resistance. If we, instead, lean into the experience, we’ll find ourselves to the other side of it faster. But we resist. Because it’s hard. Because it’s scary. Because everything in us wants to find a shortcut that doesn’t require suffering. 

As a self-employed person, I want to work through the days I’m tired or ill, but my body demands that I rest. Ignoring those demands won’t make my work better. It doesn’t make me feel better faster. It just makes me feel guilt and shame for the need to rest. It just makes me feel sicker or more tired while I resist giving myself the very thing that I need.

With suffering, it’s the same. Our bodies tell us what we need. More rest. To cry more. We get those messages, but what we want to do is move on so we keep trying to do that when our bodies are communicating another need. 

We complicate our healing with our stubborn refusal to ever listen to what our bodies have to say. 

I guess I have to learn to do more than just pamper myself as self-care. It may be my favorite form other than spending time in nature, but sometimes the thing I really need to do is just to stop. To rest. To take a break. To take a nap. To let myself go to bed early or sleep a little later. To do any or all of that without feeling guilt or shame because something else didn’t get done. 

It matters why we resist our bodies and ignore our intuition. 

It does. Knowing the roots can help us break toxic cycles. But just having the knowledge of why we do the things we do means very little if we’re not willing to do the work to change our ways. I can’t keep pushing myself through exhaustion and illness because I think a self-employed single mom should work all the time. So I’m changing.

It started with weekends. I actually took a few full weekends off from work. I started putting boundaries around when I work and when I don’t, when I’m online and when I’m not, and how much I post on social media. 

I still work a lot. My production hasn’t really slowed. And I could definitely be gentler with myself when I need a day off to rest and take better care of myself. But it’s a start. I’m learning at a very basic level how to trust my body when it tells me what it needs, how to trust my intuition when it tells me what I already know, and how to be so very kind to myself in the process of learning how to take better care of me. 

Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned full-time writer. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elephant Journal, the Good Men Project, The Urban Howl, Elite Daily, and Your Tango. Her first fiction novel, Left on Main, will be released by Sands Press Fall 2019.
Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned full-time writer. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elephant Journal, the Good Men Project, The Urban Howl, Elite Daily, and Your Tango. Her first fiction novel, Left on Main, will be released by Sands Press Fall 2019.

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