“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Audre Lorde
Often when I tell people they need to take care of themselves – to up the self-care; to do what brings them joy and ease; to put themselves first, if only for a wee bit – they tell me that’s selfish. And that selfish is wrong.
Trust me. I was literally raised in the cult of selfishness being wrong. Sinful even. I was, in fact, taught that my sacrifice cleared my ancestors of their sins and protected by descendants from their deserved suffering. If that won’t obliterate all selfishness, I don’t know what will. For years, my brain would expunge all wants and desires and needs before I even knew I had them…all from fear of being selfish…of being sinful.
But now I proclaim that we should redefine selfish as something good. That putting ourselves first, caring for our wants and needs and desires, and making sure we can breathe is not only necessary. It is magnificent. Spectacular even.
There is, again, a reason they tell us to put our own oxygen masks on first. Or, as I was taught when I first crawled into Al-Anon, “if you feel guilty doing something, it’s probably something that’s good for you to do.”
But even beyond both of those reframes that challenged my cultic (and child-of-an-alcoholic) thinking, I reprogramed my brain to believe – to know – that caring for myself was an act of power. A reclaiming of my strength and beauty. A denouncing of the lies I was taught and the self-condemnation I embraced in order to survive.
Then I found Audre Lorde’s quote.
I’ve yet to find an Audre Lorde quote that I don’t love. She was a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” I would have loved to have met her. All I can say is, “Wow.” May I one day be as wise and inspire as many and as much.
It inspires me to know that now is a time of uprising and upheaval. Now is – with all my heart I hope and pray to anyone and anything I can pray to – a time of change.
And now is a time to care for ourselves. To practice self-care, self-love, self-compassion…self-adoration even. To recognize it as not self-indulgence but as self-preservation. Or as self-indulgence that IS self-preservation. That is, indeed, an act of political warfare.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!