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When Self-Care Is Followed by Self-Sabotage

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Most of the time I am completely amazing at self-care.

I pamper myself with multiple cups of coffee a day because without them I would likely lay down in the middle of the interstate and fall soundly asleep.

One of my dearest friends is a super talented hair stylist and she magically crafts my hair every few months, for which I am forever thankful because now my family and friends say things like, “Please don’t ever make your hair do that thing it used to do!” Meaning its natural curl and color. Like, the hair I was born with.

I allow alone time for myself away from the kids. For instance, right now I may or may not be hiding in my closet whilst writing this piece.

But then on the flip side, I am also really awesome at self-sabotage.

In some of my most depressive states, I will push my closest friends away. It seems ridiculous, right? Why would I resist those who love and care about me the most? They just want to be there for me, after all. It isn’t to hurt them, this I promise you. For me, it is because I don’t want them to see me sad. I can’t bear the idea of them seeing me unhappy, dark … absent. So, I silently disappear. 

But, this never works. My friends are a lot like me: persistent. So when texts are not answered and the calls ignored I see messages like, “Where are you? Why aren’t you answering me? I’m coming over!” But then I turn angry, hostile and over-critical. I say and do awful things in order to keep them away. This obviously creates hurt, which I absolutely never want. I never want to hurt anyone because of my hurt. This lengthy cycle comes to a pause with my apologizing and explaining and begging forgiveness.

But, self-sabotage never ends for me.  I move right on to something else. Now, because I am mad at myself for having done this to my friends, I starve myself. I am no longer worthy of food. This cycle goes on and on endlessly. I don’t particularly love admitting that I treat myself this way. In fact writing this here, now, is about as humiliating as admitting that my youngest child is 4 years old and I still can’t jump on a trampoline without peeing myself a little. (Struggle = real.)

 I am in treatment with a therapist who has a lot of fancy titles in front of and behind his name but still doesn’t make me call him doctor. Because he’s grounded like that. Regardless of his education and titles, he gets me on a human level. It is because of that, I believe, that I can look him (mostly) in the eyes and confess my self-sabotage cycle so he can evaluate which stage I am in. He is kind and safe. It is because of my treatment with him that I am able to talk about all of this with you today.

Obviously, my point in writing about this, in my closet, isn’t really to talk about self-care as you may have guessed. It’s about bringing less shame to self-sabotage. It is possibly presumptuous of me to guess that many of us associate shame with self-sabotage simply because for me there is massive amounts. Let’s just agree that my intentions are completely sound.

So, for those of you stuck in the circle of punishing yourself — I get it. Even though I know you don’t deserve the punishment you are handing yourself, I completely understand why you feel you do. I wish nothing but healthy paths for us all, and to never have to treat our minds and bodies in ugly ways ever again going forward. I want you to know that right now today, this moment, there is someone else out there sitting in her closet starving herself because she gets it. Truly, truly gets it. (Plot twist; It’s me.) 

You are never alone.  Not even when it feels like it.


If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.
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Unsplash photo via NordWood Themes

Originally published: June 15, 2017
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