Self-care is something I don’t think I knew about until at least six years ago, maybe even longer. Maybe it’s also something I’ve been doing all my life. Maybe it just didn’t have a term until recently.
I am an only child of a single mother. I had to do a lot of things myself because there wasn’t really anyone around to do them for me. When I was an infant up to grade school or so I was at my Dad’s mom’s (My Nana) a lot. I was probably there every day as a baby & then after I started school, every other weekend with her or one of my aunts, sometimes at my Mom’s step-parents. I spoke my first word at my Nana’s, probably took my first steps, I remember a conversation about which way to tie my shoes with my older cousin.
Cousins of all ages were at my Nana’s on and off, and my two half-brothers. Sometimes everyone was there & felt like playing, sometimes it was just me & I had to keep myself entertained. When I got bored, I’d sit and watch old movies with the Grandparents or watch my Nana cook or sew. As I got into fourth grade and was a latch-key kid I had to do things myself until my mom got home, eat and do homework I suppose, and well sometimes even after that. I grew up being mostly self-reliant and sometimes I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. To not be able to count on someone when you are sick or need help? It sucks. Sometimes even having to convince them you’re sick because you don’t show the usual symptoms? Worse. Also living far from family and well I don’t think it would have done any good to call because I don’t think anyone could take me to the doctors but my Mom. At least that’s how I ended up waiting hours and hours before my mom got to my Nana’s from work when I fractured my wrist. It wasn’t puffy, it wasn’t bleeding, maybe they didn’t think it was as bad as it was. I had a cast for eight weeks.
The job I had for nine years, I was maybe a year or so into the job, I remember the first time I took a day off I was worried because I was part time and my mom’s mother had passed. We got points for every absence and tardy. And back then part-time workers didn’t get sick or vacation pay. They assured me that the points and pay would get to me eventually, but money was so tight I was afraid. But the way my mother told me, I had come home at maybe 3am and I had to work early the next day. I was crying so hard, I didn’t sleep…I knew I couldn’t go in let alone drive. My Grandmother was back east, and I wasn’t going to go to the funeral. I just asked my mom to mail me something to prove to work that I indeed needed the bereavement.
I was just reminded today by Facebook Memories that it’s been six years since I had attended four funerals, my heart issue that led to another health scare…so yeah, it was fun. August was definitely not a favorite month of mine. By then I’d been full time at that job for a while and a manager had me in the office, and we looked up how much sick & vacation pay I had. I had a 24hr EKG & other tests coming up and I didn’t feel like walking around work with a battery pack on my hip. He thought he was funny asking if I’d set off the door alarms. Turns out I had over a hundred hours or so saved up. He looked at me and said I obviously needed the time and I needed to use it.
“Mental health days” my friend called them. During that year I added so many positive/funny/inspirational pages on all my social media, trying to keep my spirits up. Especially since I had to go back to get checked every six months. I asked friends about ways they deal with stress, and did a lot of reading. Learning about benefits of sunlight, exercise, dark chocolate, milk etc. Haha. I also tried to be a bit more open with people—but basically after the first round of tests were done. I mean I wasn’t going to say “Oh hey I might have Leukemia”. Maybe I could have. Maybe some people would have understood & been supportive. But I still didn’t feel, no matter how supportive people acted, that they would be there for me. Not really. I started decorating paper and working on making 1,000 paper cranes just like the story and hung them around my room. Drew on them, wrote down quotes and poems. Took pictures of them.
My doctor after all that said everything was fine and it was just anxiety. I’m sorry just? Heart issues and anxiety making my white blood cells go all over the place and you think that’s nothing? I should have changed GP’s on the spot. Her answer to everything was “Lose weight and de-stress”. If you’ve read my blog about weight, I’m not obese despite my BMI. No offense to anyone but it was hard to take a talk like that from her or my mom who were both three times my size. Heck, I should have like reported her or something. She had horrible bedside manner. So did my mom for that matter. If I wanted someone to make me feel bad, I could count on my mom.
I took off days when I needed to after that. I stayed out sick when I was sick. Hardly did any overtime at work for a long time. I just tried to keep my call outs spread out enough to where the points wouldn’t overwhelm me and get me canned. That job stressed me out so much over even small things. When the brand of hair color stopped producing the color I used it was a bad thing. This job freaked out if you hand an “unnatural” hair color. I had this great red that faded so nicely people would ask if I’d colored it again. Other brands I tried after were almost purple or orange. After a while of trying to keep it, I just dyed it brown. I was tired of management’s comments. They couldn’t complain about brown! There were two days in a row I think before that where someone at that job made me cry. I used to wear mascara, black eyeliner and eye shadow. Sometimes lip gloss and always face powder. I was down to face powder after that. Damn eyeliner was at least seven bucks a pop depending on the brand. I wasn’t wasting it if they were just going to make me cry it off. Nine years and things never got better there.
When I first changed jobs it was high stress for me. The job paid well but the way they treated me was definitely about as stressful as the last job. Then losing the new job just made it worse. Yet, I still tried to keep a positive outlook.
Even when a year passed and everything I had to do to even stretch it out so I could keep renting the room I was in, I kept positive because I didn’t know what else to do. I think also back then since I had a few people & family helping with a few bucks and some friends offering me couches if I needed it so I guess I didn’t feel so bad off. Not that I wanted to use those options. I still wanted to be on my own.
I got back into my photography and art as self-care. I started writing more with Shalimar. I needed an outlet for all this emotion. I used to paint my toe nails and finger nails to be cheerful, it made me happy until that same cousin commented something like, “Oh are those your ‘job-hunting’ nails?” What? She always knew how to say something off to me in a cheery voice. Let me not get started on the fact her husband works like four jobs so it’s not like she ever needed to work after her job let her go. Now I think she does some charity work. I’m sure even at almost fifty her mommy would still take her in if she needed a place to live. Hmmm…ANYWAY!!
The fandom I got into made us do weird things like take silly photos and I even was singing random stuff on Vine to make this person (another muse) laugh. I tried setting myself up to go back to school as an option but ran out of time/money before that could kick in. You’re never sure if you’re going to get the government funds right away and sometimes it comes after you started classes and I didn’t have the money if that happened so I was out of choices.
Job hunting was awful. Just like it is now. If you’ve read my other blogs you know I ended up living with someone for a year. When I moved there I tossed a lot of stuff including almost all of the 600+ paper cranes. I didn’t feel like anything was going right anymore. I didn’t feel like being positive or cheery for anyone let alone myself. I didn’t know it was going to get worse though. She said I had to work, no going to school, which was fine. And I’m sure she would have been upset if I was painting my nails so yah. I felt stupid even asking for detangler. But my hair likes to be its half-Latina self so it gets wavy and poufy and I need stuff like mousse and detangler or I look like Bride of Frankenstein. I didn’t need to be scaring people if they saw me. I pretty much sat and worked my job, did stuff for them like dishes, and sometimes wrote or doodled. She said she was going to help me. Felt more like I was living in a prison with a few jerk-off prison guards and their jerk-off family. I would say like an unloved pet but their pets got treated great. They even spoiled the crap out of my rabbit. Which was fine because she doesn’t like me anyway! She’s super grumpy. No love lost there. She’ll love anyone with a treat in their hand, and chew on something she’s not supposed to as soon as your back is turned. Haha.
Living with her I went through three jobs, the last one as pretty good. It stuck past the probation unlike the last few. With all that went on in that year I still tried to be positive that it would somehow work out, that I wouldn’t get stuck with that lady and her crazy family. That I wouldn’t get tossed out on the street. No one else was going to take me in.
Then I got my own place and lost the damn job to the stupidest reason ever–no high-speed DSL internet. In San Bernadino??? Southern California?! What??? Let’s just leave it at that and please don’t ask because I’ve been through it all trying to get a connection and there’s nothing. TRUST ME.
And this time I can’t bring myself to feel positive about it anymore. I’m tired. Beyond tired.
I can’t bring myself to feel okay with this. It’s not okay! I’ve been through so much already! I fought hard to keep the job and I tried a few more times to work something out with the ONE internet company that might work within the jobs parameters to get me set up so I could try to get the job back. Since I have a month left here I may call them one more time. Supposedly I’m on a waiting list too.
I’m not in love with this city. It was just cheap rent and not ‘as dangerous’ as living in LA County. But it’s far from everything. Two hours from friends & from a job I was actually getting pretty good at. No car. Bus would be four buses and six hours each way. No, I can’t move closer I have not one red cent on me anymore. The last of it was spent on this month’s bills. My friend let me a few bucks to cover the last bill. If something good doesn’t come up in the next few weeks I’m sure I’ll be out on the street. Bunny and all my things? I don’t know what will happen to it all. And I can’t imagine anyone coming to my rescue.
I used to joke that I’m just doing my job (whichever job) until I could become famous or win the lotto. I’m sure a lot of people say that. I would hope maybe my photography or art would make me get noticed, or at least make enough in the shops to pay my bills. Or maybe Shalimar & I would get discovered and our books & poetry would get published by a real publisher or at least get a literary agent to take us on. If there was a way to speed it up or get a hook up for any of that I don’t know how to do it. I promote my butt off. We used to submit to publishers. Most of them want you to have an agent, especially if you’re new. Most of the other places I’ve found want money up front which someone said is a no-no. Same thing with most of the writing contests I’ve found. I just don’t trust them. I gave someone as a friend a few of my photos to put with her poems for a Latin magazine like a decade ago. I have no idea if she ever used them or gave me credit. So yah, I’ve had some bad experiences in the past. Some of my shops promote popular artists, but I don’t consider myself up to par with those people. At least not yet. Not enough to get noticed by them, though I did fill out an application to be featured once.
My thoughts have gotten pretty dark. Before I decided to stay one more month…Let’s just say I thought about deleting all my social media pages and going off into the sunset. Even with my new muse and the now 21,000 words Shalimar & I have on the new story inspired by him, sometimes I think no one will read it. It will just be lost among the garbage when my things get tossed.
I told our young teenage friend she’s smart enough to know she can’t run from her problems any more than I can. I, as just a written voice, can’t make her do anything. So when people tell me or try to make me promise to do things or to not do things…I can’t promise anything to anyone but to try. I can only try. That’s what I tell her too. You can only do your best. Still, even sitting here, I swear a lot movies I’ve seen online lately are about loss, death, or illness. Even two today–yeesh! Some hit a bit too close to home with the cancer thing or mental illness, or those ones where it gets all inspirational because they think they’re going to die. Dude I think being an Empath I just feel too much even watching movies. So I cry like an idiot and then tell myself I’m never going to watch the movie again. Haha. Sometimes crying as well as laughing can be therapeutic. Sometimes I feel to physically & emotionally drained to do much of anything. And I hate it. And it scares the crap out of me.
No jobs are calling. I’m running out of places to apply. There’s not much around here I can get to without a car. Someone suggested renting a room or other ways to reduce my bills. Again, with what money? It’s all gone! Also, when I looked at rooms before most didn’t allow pets and most didn’t expect you to be working from home. Which if I could get that job back I’d do it in a heartbeat. I love people, but they all seem to say the same things, and unless you are connected with that literary or art person who’s willing to try to give me a step up, I’ve tried/done/seen/heard anything else you can think of to do on my own for over three years now.
A few weeks ago I couldn’t even bring myself to work in my shops anymore. Just write a bit. I’m starting to try to at least get back into working on the shops, not necessarily adding new designs. Holiday shopping is coming up. Because I would have been even shorter for bills if I hadn’t at least had a few bucks from them over the past three years. Though two have minimum amounts and all take 30 days to pay out, it’s still better than nothing. Even ten bucks back in the day I could get some milk and some food. Now I just need bill money, I have some food money.
I’m still not painting my nails, I was tempted to, but certain things told me it wasn’t a good idea. The reason was wrong lets just say. It’s funny how even going to the store I used to wear a little makeup, now even wearing mascara is like so novel to me. I thought about dying my hair again but I don’t have the money to buy a box of color. It’s basically been my natural color for what three years now? I let the brown fade to my dark blonde and used some spray lightener to get some gold back in. Since money has been tight, I haven’t even gone to a cheap hair cut place in maybe five years. Don’t get out a ruler on my ends. Eh. One thing I liked about the last job too is I saw a few ladies with blue or other colored streaks or purple hair. I long for a job where I can do that. I’ve never had other shades but red. Unless it was something that washed out or clipped in. Never had a tattoo either. Never had the money. I have splurged before though. I’m not that tightly wound.
I also used to read a lot more. I don’t think I read anything living with that woman. I had two I was reading when I moved. I think I have at least one in a box with me here. I don’t really count online articles and stuff like that. I mean books when I say “read”. I did listen to an audiobook recently, studying the new muse. I have a second one in mind if I can get into it. It’s something to listen besides a tv show/movie as I work on other things. I like multitasking. Haha.
Funny thing is I’m always busy doing something. Before, I was job hunting, but also selling my clothes on eBay & trying to make more things to sell, doing my shops, self-published a book with Shalimar…anything to make a buck basically. I can’t concentrate on that this time. Also, the landlady said no businesses out of the apartment; I’m thinking eBay boxes going in & out would qualify. Delivery/pickup here is spotty anyway. I love my writing and when I do art/photography, but because no one I know seems to think that either are worthy careers (seriously even if I could live off the profits of my shops or books, I’m sure my remaining relatives would still ask, “So when are you going to get a real job?”) I don’t feel like I’m really doing anything. Do you know how much that hurts? When no one seems to believe in you? It makes me think my writing and art/photography SUCKS. At least to them. Or as some of the girls suggested, they’re jealous so they ignore what I’m trying to do. Like they don’t want me to be happy because they’re not happy. I don’t want to believe that. But honestly, I’m not sure anymore. I’m trying to not care and take care of myself. But I couldn’t help expressing one last time how I shouldn’t have to ask for my family & friend’s support. It should just be there. And they say you can’t miss what you’ve never had? Well, in my case I do. I get likes and complements from strangers sometimes. Strangers! I can’t tell you the last time I haven’t had to tag a friend to get them to notice something. I like to check in on friends and be supportive of their work and lives. I don’t get why I can’t find anyone like in my life.
I want to try to see if I can get some outside help, at least for my anxiety. Find a group or something. Sheesh. Maybe get my blood work done. That’s even if I can get this place I called today to pick up the phone. I can’t believe government funded agencies are so archaic and it’s so hard to get someone on the phone. No real website either. One thing I miss about having real health insurance is I could make an appointment online at least and go from there. Though they didn’t exactly help me with the anxiety now did they? Like I said if nothing short of a miracle happens this month, I’m not sure what will happen to me next. For now I’m trying not to think about it and do what I can with this month.
For a lot of us, I think it’s all up to us. No one else is coming to the rescue. I wish sometimes that someone would just let me be me. Take care of me. Let me cry and be human for a while. I will probably never get that. Even as a kid I was pretty much doing my own thing, watching out for myself, taking care of myself. I think part of self-care is just trying to sleep, getting up, doing things like making yourself food, showering, getting the mail, taking out the trash, or even keeping in touch with people–or tossing the bad people out of your life can be pretty therapeutic as well. Take your meds and see your therapist if you do those things. The basics. It feels silly but sometimes just doing the smallest thing feels like such a big accomplishment right now. Some people don’t realize how hard that can be for someone with no car, no money, and anxiety among other things to go out and do simple tasks.
So besides the basics, go paint your nails and wear makeup if that makes you feel good. Listen to music, take a bubble bath, draw or write, sing, whatever floats your boat. Don’t work too hard where you forget to take care of yourself. I think the important thing is you love and take care of yourself first, otherwise you may not be a hundred percent to help someone else. No one can live your life for you. No one can truly make you happy until you accept and love who you are–the good and the bad. And if you do have people in your life like that, still take care of yourself, and remember how lucky you are to have them.