Self-Care and Responsibility

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This week I’ve seen a few things that portrayed the concept of self-care as self-indulgence,  and contrasted it with responsible respectability. But humans are complex creatures,  full of needs and wants. We are not tireless responsibility robots.

To me it’s obvious that self-care and responsibility are equally important.  I schedule my life around the understanding that I need both. I need to work and earn money, to wash dishes and vacuum,  to brush my teeth and wash my body. At the same time, I need to respect the impact my disabilities have on me, need to be gentle with myself in case no one else is, need to rest so I can replenish spoons for the next day.

Self-care is for when you can’t be responsible.  It’s a tool for getting back to a state where you can be responsible and productive again.  It’s not an excuse or immaturity; it’s one type of responsibility.  Managing my mental and physical illnesses is my job. Self-care is part of doing that job.

It’s important to remember that everyone engages in activities that bring pleasure or peace. Spending an entire Sunday afternoon watching football is a common, male-coded,  socially acceptable form of self-care. No one seriously suggests men as a group should give up their personal time because the way they’re spending it isn’t productive. Yet women and disabled people – the groups most likely to use the term “self-care” – are constantly asked to defend the usefulness of our leisure time.

I think insulting self-care as a concept comes either from disdain for women and disabled people,  or from a position of profound ignorance or shallow logic.  It doesn’t take much thinking to realize that all humans engage in leisure activities.

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