Self care

Since I have moved to town and begun working with vulnerable & abused women I have been introduced to the notion of self care.
In our training we were taught that self care is vitally important.
After so many years of putting myself and my needs second, or third – actually probably more than 12th in line this was sort of a new concept for me.

I have spent so many years being strong, the one that everyone depends on, the one that gets things done, the busy one.
I didn’t realise until about 5.5 years ago when my brain said enough and I had a major breakdown.
I had no idea what was happening to me until a friend asked me a question.
Do you think you might be depressed?
Seriously  – me depressed!
I dont ‘do’ depressed!
I haven’t got time for that nonsense :-/
But, her question & concern stopped me in my tracks and I took the plunge and went to my Dr.
That in itself was a major exercise at the time.
Anyway, the upshot was, for the first time in my entire life I was able to tell someone about the extensive sexual and emotional abuse I endured for over 10 years of my childhood.
And from there I began my healing.
It has not been easy, it is never easy to open old and deep wounds and expose them.
In fact it is very scary.
I was, and am, a mother of many, and a wife, running businesses alongside my man.
Life was busy.
I had not realised that busyness is one of the ways that abuse victims ‘use’ to ‘forget’ what has happened to them.
Not that you ever ever forget!
Life didn’t get any easy with this disclosure, in fact it got a hell of a lot harder.
My journey of self discovery has been incredibly tumultuous.
I have discovered who my true friends are.
Part of my self preservation has been learning to close the door on those who can’t or won’t support me and to embrace those who can and do.

My therapist has been flabbergasted over the years as one historic trauma after another is disclosed as well as more stress and trauma that has occurred along the way since then.
She commented to me one day that my PTSD was incredibly complex.
I picture my traumas over the years as pieces of string, they have knotted together and through time have wound themselves into a very big ball of string.
Hence the name of this new blog 🙂
I am slowly unraveling and dealing with each piece, unknotting, unraveling,  and using them to weave a new garment.
My new garment is going to be stunningly gorgeous and of course the predominant colour will be Orange 🙂

So back to self care.
For me this has not happened overnight.
It has been quite a journey.
Slowly slowly, baby steps, three steps forward and one back, sometimes it has felt like four back!!

My self care began with mending my mind.
Learning how to process what has happened, how it has affected me and the way I deal with situations and then to relearn new ways, more healthy ways of approaching similar situations.
This takes time and I am ever so grateful to have found a therapist who has worked with me gently over the past 5 years.

Physical rest has also been important.
I have pushed myself for so long, the subconscious need to keep busy to bury everything sort of busy.
When Tim was killed my body stopped.
I was literally unable to do anything but go through the motions.
I stopped cooking, reading, listening to music, art……
I literally shut down and spent most of my time hiding in my room watching brainless movies.

Then I ran away.
I took my two youngest and we ran away.
It really wasn’t a conscious decision.
It just happened, but it was a good happening.
We spent most part of a year on the move.
We had some amazing adventures and did some much needed bonding and healing.
It was a very precious time for us all.
It resulted in us moving to town and away from my most recent pain of losing our main man.

One of the first things I did was to apply for a partially voluntary job with SASH Nelson.
It was pretty daunting applying for the first job in nearly 40 years.
But the cool thing was that I was accepted to be a part of the Crisis Response Team.
Becoming part of the team has played a huge part in my healing journey.
My team mates are the most awesome girls, they have become members of my new Village.
It was through this job that I have learnt much more about the importance of self care.
Plus I am able to help support others because I have an empathy and understanding with them.
And helping them is helping me – win win 🙂

And now to now!
Where am I at now?
Well, I am kickin’ arse.
I am so incredibly proud of myself.
I still have down days, days where the tears rule, where I hit the floor in a sobbing heap.
But those days are less frequent.
I have days where I am incredibly lonely, but I am learning to reach out.
I am in a much stronger headspace.
And being in a stronger headspace has given me the ability to focus on my physical being.
Living in the central city on the flat has allowed me to gradually build up my fitness levels.
Due to a lot of injuries both historic and recent my body has been rather battered so walking has been good therapy.
I have restored my soul by wandering around the river and roads with the puppy, discovering new places and friends.
Recently I felt in the right place & ready, so have joined up with a local gym & pool.
It is 10 years since I did any serious gym work.
I have really enjoyed going down there first thing most mornings and getting a good cardio session going.
The trainers have put together a programme for me in the weights room, and after just a month I am feeling so damn good.
I am not focusing on weight loss, just getting my body toned and functioning again.
Yesterday I was very conscious that all my jeans were getting very loose and quite baggy – not really the look I like – so I popped in to see the girls at JeansWest and they helped me find some new jeans.
Unbelievable – I have gone from size 14 down to size 11.
I haven’t been that size in about 28 years!!
This morning, I am feeling really buzzed from my Vitamin G(ym) fix this morning.
In fact I am feeling frickin’ fantastic  🙂
This self care stuff is actually pretty damn good.
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6 thoughts on “Self care”

    1. Jill, please know how much you and Gareth have played a big part in this journey – it was a very special time with you both. We all so appreciated, and still do, your friendship. Thank you xxx

  1. This is great Raewyn. As principal of a small school I am a huge advocate to all my staff and families how important it is to look after ourselves. I truly believe often the best thing we can do for our families and our students is to take some time to look after ourselves; in putting ourselves first we are actually doing what is best for our children. It is a challenging message to get through, especially to our mums, as we all have a history of putting our children’s needs (and often many other people’s) ahead of our own. I worry at the exhausted looking faces and bodies of those working in education and ask myself how is putting exhausted and stressed people infront of the students in our classrooms good for our children? It is not an easy message to get across but a very important one. For the sake of our children I won’t give up on this message.

    1. Brilliant Freya – it seriously needs to be put out there. As carers we have to be strong to care for others. Cant be strong if we don’t look after ourselves.

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