The Underbelly of Self-Care

The first four months of living in Portland, upon reflection, felt like a grueling detox that I wasn’t quite prepared for.

Before moving to the city, I was sedated by toxins that had infiltrated my lungs and clouded my mind. Unhealthy mindsets, environments, people, and energies hurt me more than I could have consciously recognized at the time. Changing cities purged nearly everything I’ve ever known: friends, family, streets, and feelings. It’s been here, in Portland, where I’ve let go of everything in my past, and thus have finally been able to discover myself.

Instinctively, I feel lonely– or my mind tries to convince myself that I am lonely. However, loneliness truly indicates a need for the self. No one can love you more than you can love yourself. Despite having 18 unread messages in my phone right now, I can’t seem to bring myself to respond very often, even to people I care about.
I’ve been busy becoming a new person.
Unless a friend is supporting my journey of self-discovery through aware or unaware compassion, my transitioning spirit doesn’t have the words to respond to: “what’s up.”

Being a blank slate in a new world surrounded by strangers highlights the aspects of my personality that I cherish and protect. However, this identification with my personality, rather than my spirit, has proved to be the tipping point of my practice. Repeating to myself how my quirks are beautiful cannot inspire me the way universal love and radical self-acceptance do. I’ve preached about the importance of self-love, and even held presentations about self-care techniques. But it wasn’t until I was left alone with my mind for so long that I understood what self-care really is.

Self-love means putting your cell down and blasting Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” on the speakers; not answering texts because tonight, the club is your living room, and you dance for no one but yourself.
Self-care means shedding light on the detrimental behaviors and mindsets you’ve conditioned into habits, even when you’d rather be watching Netflix.
Self-love is dedicating yourself to positive growth, rather than chewing on treats to soothe your doubts and insecurities.
Self-care is taking the time to breathe and gently quiet your mind, not silencing your heart with substances. You are deserving and worthy of this every single day.

One of the most rewarding parts of life is learning something new each day; expanding our realities to newfound understandings of ourselves and the world we are a part of. Who I was six months ago could not have fathomed the lessons I’ve neglected to learn the past seven years. The world provides us with opportunities to master invaluable pearls of wisdom all around us, but we can only see these resources when our hearts and minds are wide open. Eyes can only see skin-deep, and I’ve found appearances to be unreliable or even illusionary. I didn’t realize the veil over my reality until it was painfully ripped away, but the clarity found has been more healing than anything before.

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