Self-love: not a concept just for hippies

Would you guys like to hear something weird? something kind of frustrating to all involved?

First a little backstory as to how I ended up thinking about the weird thing I want to talk about. I woke up to a text from my dad this morning informing myself and some of the family that he had suffered a somewhat embarrassing (he called it cartoonish) fall yesterday. He tried to just deal with it and see if his body would heal itself. My dad is a proud man and rather stubborn when it comes to admitting he is hurt in any capacity so him admitting that, today, he was heading to the Emergency Room for care is a huge deal.

This instance got me thinking, in a round about sort of way, about a friend of mine. I know this guy; super friendly and outgoing, would give any one he comes across the shirt off of his back if it meant they wouldn't have to suffer the indignity of not being able to afford clothes or if it would spare them the pain of dealing with the elements. This same guy is the one that stops for any car on the side of the road, regardless of how busy he may be, to see if they need assistance of any kind. If he's not able to stop for some reason, he feels terrible about it, imagining the stranded motorist as having some sort of emergency (potentially life threatening) that he could have prevented if only he'd stopped. He will spend the remainder of the day mulling over the possibilities and potential outcomes, never truly knowing if maybe the car was just pulled over to take a quick roadside bathroom break, or something just as mundane.

If this friend happens to see anyone struggling with anything, and I mean ANYTHING: trying to get something from a high shelf in a grocery store, struggling with something heavy, crying or even just looking sad, this friend will stop whatever he's doing and immediately offer whatever assistance he can.

Now are you ready for the weird part? The absolutely frustrating aspect? This friend of mine, as big as his heart is for others, takes the worst care of himself. I don't mean physical care, although he does often struggle with that as well. I mean #SelfCare. I'm sure you all are at least somewhat familiar with the concept: supporting your mental health by indulging in activities you find fun or stimulating. Let's dive a little deeper into why this is so frustrating. He almost refuses to take care of himself emotionally because, as he has told me on multiple occasions, it feels selfish. He feels like, by taking care of himself, in giving himself time to enjoy the activities he truly loves, when taking time away from his family to support his own emotional balance, he feels as though he's neglecting his responsibilities and, therefore, not being a responsible person.

I've spoken to him on several occasions, when he is absolutely despondent, about the importance of caring for oneself. The ironic part of these talks? He is the first to counsel those in need about the importance of #MentalHealth maintenance. He is a crazy #Spiritual person whom understands the import of personal #Compassion to ones own life, he tells anyone he knows that the only person who will take care of you is you and you need to be your fiercest champion; he imparts these lessons on everyone he meets. Yet he seems physically incapable of practicing his own lessons.

This friend often gets frustrated with me because, as I see him struggling, I attempt to impart his own wisdom onto him. He has told me I'm being an ass and I should just shut up and let him be: "He knows what he is doing". When he is at his absolute worst, when I can tell he's internalizing all of his struggles and pain, I push harder and he just emotionally shuts down, retreating inside of his self. In these moments, I wish I knew how to get him to understand that caring for yourself is not stupid, it is not selfish. Quite the opposite in fact. When he doesn't take care of himself, when he retreats to the recesses of his mental fog to mull over whatever is bothering him, often circling the drain of rumination, that is when he is being selfish. These are the moments when he is truly neglecting his responsibilities and perpetuating the suffering; these are the moments his family struggles the most; these are the moments he is truly wearing blinders and unable to comprehend that following his own advice would be the best remedy.

Do you want to hear the weirdest part of all of this though? This stubborn, frustrating, hard-headed friend is me. As I was heading back to my house this morning after spending an hour getting my ass kicked by some six foot waves in Hale'Iwa, it dawned on me that I am the happiest I have been in many weeks. I am happy because I finally decided to give myself permission to go do something for myself. I was finally able to understand that my kids will not be devastated if I am not around for a couple hours in the morning, AJ's life won't fall apart if I am briefly absent while I indulge myself with a hobby I've always wanted to pursue. And do you know what else? I spend a lot of time telling myself that trying to surf is stupid and a waste of time because I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. But, honestly, who gives a shit? As long as I'm having fun and indulging in things that I think will bring me joy, I'm not being selfish, I am actually caring for myself, which in turn will help me better care for my family.

So what's the point here? Why tell you about this annoyingly frustrating friend of mine? I say this all to illustrate this point: If you've reached a point in life where you're just going through the motions, just obligatorily drifting through life as you work, do chores, pay bills and repeat, then are you truly living, and are you happy? Take some time today to indulge yourself. Take a moment to learn a new hobby you've always wanted to learn, to allow yourself a blissfully silent and uninterrupted moment in which you read a book or listen to some music. Just take a step back and give yourself permission to take a break in whatever fashion you see best fit.

Stay happy guys and love yourself

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