Updated: Feb 9
What does it take for you to start listening to yourself? Is listening to your gut a form of self care? What is self care? For me to start listening to myself and start this foreign and scary
“self care'' journey, it took the love of my life leaving this beautiful island that we came here to flourish and start our family on. The day before Valentine’s day.
Now, I have always been more of a Galentines Day girl myself. My girlfriends and I, although letting each other know more often than one day a year, have always been vocal about how much we love each other. We started a tradition of sending each other cards and things to treat ourselves with. I have never had a man to gift me cliche Valentines Day roses, chocolates and sappy cards. If that is what you’re into, there is no shame in that. It just was never for me.
My name is Tara. I am so proud to say that I am a new spokes-model for What Makes You Feel Beautiful. I am the first born in my family and the oldest sibling to six younger brothers. From a very young age, 9 years old, I have been one of the primary caretakers in my household. This led to a very strange relationship with my self worth, self respect and my self esteem. How did I cope with everything? I hid in relationships. Not just romantic relationships, relationships with way too demanding jobs, “friends,” and boyfriends. I just always found something to take care of. That way, I never really had to prioritize myself or my needs. I feel like this is all too common for us as women to take on these roles. Where does that leave us?
I will share where it left me.
February 14, 2019, empty, unable to get out of bed, unable to stop crying, unable to eat or shower, unable to sleep, unable to stop questioning my every move and decision for the past three years. Sis, it was NOT cute! I had hit bottom, and, for a bit there, I blamed him. Him leaving was what it took for me to start listening to myself. I would have never done this work if he was still here.
Thank goodness for my therapist. She was, unknowingly, the catalyst in this self care journey. Wait,wait wait. Back to that. What is self care? For the first time in my life, at 31 years old, I had the space to start facing the uncomfortable task of figuring out what it was that I really needed. First step, I needed to forgive myself for not knowing then what I know now.
These jobs that overworked me that came with bosses who didn’t have my best interests in mind, had to go. In my withdrawal from the world in those weeks, the people that really cared that felt something was off or hadn’t heard from me in a while would call with genuine concern and make themselves available for me. I learned how to take baths whenever I wanted. I learned the importance of saying “no” when it needed to serve me and that “no” is a complete sentence! I learned the importance of sleep. I learned the importance of paying attention to what I was consuming and how it was fueling my brain and body. I learned about ‘head trash’ and how I had been feeding myself with 'head trash' for years! I learned how to be alone. I learned how to be mine. I was always everyone else’s.
I understand that a lot of our society Valentine’s Day is a hallmark holiday where the stores get to hike up their cost of chocolates, flowers and anything pink and or heart shaped. I do believe though that there is this beautiful shift happening in our society that is us females changing this holiday to be about us turning inward and celebrating ourselves and our sisters. However, I also believe that everyday, not just on Valentine's Day, you need to be yours.
Putting your needs first is not selfish. You need to serve yourself first in order to serve others. Self care is different for everyone. Learn what it means for you. Listen to yourself, sis! I will leave you with something I learned to ask myself everyday, something RuPaul says at the end of every Drag Race: “If you don’t love yoself how in the hell you gon love somebody else?”
Happy Galentines Day!
Tara Orr - photo by Krissy Millar
Dream Big - Neon Brand
Flowers & Sweets - Brook Lark
Breathe - Tim Goedhart
Create a life you love - Allie Smith
Mindfulness - Lesly Juarez
Self love - Content Pixie
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