by Christina Enevoldsen
Several years ago, my birthday was coming up and, after going through a very stressful and painful time, I was determined to have a great gift. I like choosing my own presents from my husband since the opportunities and possibilities of the hunt is half the fun.
We’d just moved from Los Angeles to Arizona with only a few pieces of furniture so I wanted something to help fill up our home. I love to mix modern with vintage and my favorite place to shop is Craigslist. So the shopping was on!
I found a headboard for my bed (and I’m not even going to describe it because I find that style hideous now!) and it was just the price I was willing to pay. I made an appointment for Don to pick it up so it could be mine. Hooray!
But something didn’t seem right about it. Instead of excitement, I felt angry. I was getting what I wanted but…what? In the past, that feeling might have come from guilt for asking for something I wanted. But I’d dealt with that a few years earlier and that didn’t seem to quite fit.
As I sorted out this churning inside me, I got to the reason for that: I was using this gift as the “proof” that I was deserving. All of the challenges we’d been going through triggered my feelings of being a victim. Feeling powerless and deprived, I wanted some kind of recompense.
And when I saw all of that, in a flash I saw another thing—no amount of work or service or gifts or money or anything else that anyone gave to me would fill me.
I needed to deal with those feelings and then I needed to be the one giving to myself. I needed to hear that message from me that I’m worth the work and the money. Nobody else could prove it to me or convince me. It was my job to convince myself.
That’s the truth I’ve had to remind myself over and over again in this whole healing journey of mine. It was others, mostly my parents, who caused me to form these negative beliefs about myself. The way they treated me communicated that I wasn’t worth any effort. Whether intentionally to keep me under their control or unintentionally from what they were taught, they taught me to abuse and neglect myself.
I learned those things from others but it’s up to me to correct it. Others took away my self-esteem and my motivation for self-care but I’m the only one who could get that back.
Self-care has been one of the most ongoing struggles of my healing journey and I’m finally in a place where I feel really great about where I am. To fight through all the old beliefs and habits, I created a plan—If you know me, you know I like a good plan!
Everywhere I read about self-care, it was all about enjoying bubble baths and massages. Nothing against those, but self-care is more than that. To me, self-care is about knowing I’m empowered to give myself what I need to thrive. It’s about putting myself first. It’s about being convinced serving myself is a wonderful investment of my time. Bubble baths can’t do that.
Since the negative beliefs were so multi-faceted, my plan needed to be too. I had to:
- Identify and directly work through negative beliefs that sabotaged me
- Regularly communicate “I love you” to myself in ways I could finally hear and believe.
- Establish new, nurturing thoughts about myself.
- Learn what healthy self-care looks like through mentors.
I’d love to know what strategies and tips you’ve found that help you take good care of you. Please comment below and contribute to the conversation. Remember to subscribe to the comments so you don’t miss any of the discussion. You can post anonymously and email addresses are kept private.
I’m Christina Enevoldsen and I’m the cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse and the author of The Rescued Soul: The Writing Journey for the Healing of Incest and Family Betrayal. I’m a Strategic Interventionist and Certified Professional Life Coach with a specialty Life Story Certification. As a survivor of incest, sex trafficking and a 21-year long abusive marriage (now remarried to an emotionally healthy, loving and supportive man), I bring personal experience, empathy, and insight as well as professional training to help childhood sexual abuse survivors thrive.