A blog by Amanda Alcantara

Monday, January 20, 2014

The strength in letting go

Sometimes we confuse practicing self-care with practicing strength. Or at least I do. Whenever I recognize that I'm at an emotional low, I immediately go into rejection mode: I think of practicing self-care as sitting down and writing more goals, as fantasizing about a better future, as drilling into my brain that I am a strong and independent woman who doesn't need anyone to validate her worth.

And every time that I react that way, I ultimately end up resorting to some sort of short-term solution for my pain: anxiety, eating too much, physically escaping by leaving the situation, etc..

One of my friends sent me a quote by bell hooks in hopes of making me feel better: "Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape." Well, no. I tried being alone for a couple of minutes. I sat on my bed, staring at the quote. "I don't wanna use my friends as an escape," I thought. Then the tears really came pouring down. And so I decided, or rather recognized that I didn't want tough love. I didn't want to be "strong" and handle this on my own. I needed people. So I reached out and before I knew it, I had built for myself a support group of friends to remind me that I'm worthy of love.

And that's pretty much where the failure was for me in the past: I felt that in letting myself actually feel sorrow, I'd become less worthy of love. I ignored my needs in order to not have to share feelings that I was ashamed of, and I somehow felt that keeping things inside was the strongest thing to do.

But there's so much strength in realizing that we're human and, even though we may be ashamed of our own emotions, even if we find ourselves not being able to fully lift our heads, we are always worthy of love.

So today I'm practicing self-care by sharing those things that I consider weak-emotions with close friends and by having patience with myself. Also by recognizing that letting go of pressure to be good all the time and allowing myself this space is an act of resistance in a society that shuns those who dare say "No, I'm not good."

"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." -audre lorde


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