Self Compassion & Care

I am hard on myself. I always have been.

Before experiencing multiple miscarriages I was not very compassionate and tolerant.

Today, after RPL, I am a much more compassionate person. Today, I encourage people to be kind to themselves through their infertility and loss struggles. I often encourage people to realize that their fertility struggles are not their fault. I encourage people to love themselves, all their self-perceived faults included. Honestly, it was not very hard for me to become more compassionate to others going through their immense infertility / loss struggles. This came to me like second nature, it just happened.

Yet, throughout the last year I’ve been working on being more compassionate towards myself. I’ve been trying to learn to change my definition of success, learning to live a bit messier and learning to accept that I cannot control the outcome all the time. At times this has been very hard work.  And in fact, I would say that last piece about acceptance has been very hard for me, and still requires a lot more work.

Yet, through all of this work, I continue to fall into my old trap – I am not very compassionate towards myself.

For some stupid reason I tend to hold myself to a higher (and in almost all respects unachievable) level then I do anyone else. I’m not sure why I do this to myself? I have no idea why I expect that I should be able to live through 5 losses, hold down full-time professional employment and do it with a smile, when my life experiences have taught me that no-one should be expected to weather this storm perfectly. I would never expect anyone else to, and here I am mad at myself for not being able to do it.

If someone else wrote the post I did on Monday, I would want to smack them upside the head and tell them while their emotions are real and legitimate, they are also unfair and very biased towards the negative. Just as Spirit Baby Come Home said, “this is not my fault. It’s okay to voice that” – but yet I don’t seem to voice that.  Clearly I carry a lot of guilt. I struggle to disassociate my body’s illness from me as complete human being. Clearly this is not healthy not is it a complete and realistic picture of my life.

Many of you were so right in pointing out or alluding to the fact that I am not showing myself much compassion. Clearly, all the self-care I’ve been working on for the last year is not finale and complete. Clearly, there is still more work for me to day. And I am thankful to each one of you who helped me realize this.

So, today I am left wondering:

  • Why is it that I’m struggling so much to let go of my old, engrained way of thinking? Particularly when a lot of my old ways weren’t the healthiest way to live.
  • Why is it that I cannot see beyond how poorly I’ve handled everything? Others would (and have) commended me for how well I’ve actually handled it all, yet I cannot see anything beyond the fact that I’ve failed. I’ve failed at having children. I’ve failed at balancing my career and my personal life. I’ve failed to contribute equally to my marriage in a purely financial perspective.
  • Why is it so hard for me to accept that I am not perfect? And really should not be focused on trying to be perfect because it’s an unachievable goal?
  • Why am I having such a hard time reconciling everything that has happened in the last few years, and accepting that it is not my fault?  Why am I letting self-imposed guilt permeate so deeply into my brain and very being?
  • Why am I seeing myself as a failure, when I would not see anyone else in the same circumstances as a failure?
  • Why cannot I not accept and love myself for who I really am? I mean, I’m not a bad person, in fact I acknowledge that I’m a pretty decent person, so why do I see the negatives more than the positives? Why can’t I see the more balanced (and likely more accurate) perspective?

I have no answers, but wouldn’t it be great if I did? I ventured into this world on Monday as I wanted to acknowledge and process my feelings, and today, with the support of so many wonderful people, I realize that I need to find a healthy way to actively move out of this place – to move beyond the dissonance that deep seeded guilt has created within my heart and brain. (I absolutely acknowledge that I have an unhealthy relationship with guilt that I have let permeate into my life for way too long). I suspect part of moving out of this will be to truly accept what is and what will be, and my lack of control in influencing the outcome.

I think next week’s appointment with my counsellor should be an interesting one as I want to work to understand and move through my emotions surrounding my guilt and self-imposed expectation of perfection.

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32 Comments on “Self Compassion & Care

  1. These are very challenging issues and feelings to confront and I’m not surprised they hijack us regularly and can be very resilient to change. I truly hope you can find some peace and understanding, from which compassion is sure to flow I believe, with your counsellor’s help and the love and support of those who care about you. Just don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect at it right away! 😉

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    • Haha, “just don’t beat yourself up for not being PERFECT at it right away” – yes, as I have high standards for myself, clearly I do run the risk of beating myself up for not being PERFECT. 🙂
      Thank you so much for being one of those in my life who continue to support me and care about me as I tackle all of this. It sure is hard work, so I’m glad to have you in my corner. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally could have written this post a year ago. We’re taught to be kind and nurturing to every other person– except ourselves. Learning to accept our failures and love who we are as we are- it’s so much harder than it looks.

    The fact that you’re already asking these questions is such a health, positive step. You’ll get there, I know it.

    Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but I would totally suggest reading “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. Yes, it is self-help-y and this initially made me embarrassed to even be seen reading it. BUT, it has also helped me realize if I want to be the kind of human I admire, I have to let go of guilt, blame, and shame. I’m not normally a “product pusher” but Brown’s research has completely changed my relationship to myself.

    And now I will step down from my soap box.

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    • Thank you for all of this Mrs. O. I suspect you are right, eventually I will get there, it’s just going to take some hard work.
      I am too a reader of Brene Brown. I have not yet read Daring Greatly, it’s her only book that I am yet to read. Maybe this is my motivation to start. Thank you. 🙂
      Also, feel free to step on your soap box anytime. I always enjoy it when you do.

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  3. I feel like most people are probably harder on themselves than they are on others. I am, anyway! I think maybe it’s because you know who you are, you know your own expectations, you know how you were raised and what you believe to be the best you. You can control yourself and what you do…you can’t, however, control others, nor do you know everything about them. This makes you expect less of them. At least that’s how I see it. I’m very hard on myself, too. I think it might also be the type A personality thing helping out with that! 😉 Either way, I hope your counselor can help you work through some of this and help you to feel better about yourself, and go easier on yourself.

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    • I think you are right about the Type A personality and our upbringings helping out with causing us to be harder on ourselves then we are on most others. I’m glad I’m not the only one who does this and I hope you too are able to learn to be easier on yourself. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It is really hard to answer those questions, but I think that you have made great progress by even asking these questions and it will probably take a lifetime to answer them. I do agree that we all need to give ourselves a break and take better care of ourselves. Just by how organized your blog is I can tell that you have it way more together than you realize.

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    • I suspect you are right, many of my questions are not something that can be answered in an instant, and will take at least my entire life to work through. Wow, that sounds daunting :).
      And thank you so much for your kind words Alicia. I am so thankful to be getting to know you. 🙂

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  5. Isn’t there some saying about awareness being the first step toward… something? Just know that you don’t have to have all of the answers. Much as you love your order and diagrams, they can be kind of useless when it comes to matters of the heart. We can’t command ourselves to feel the way we want to feel–all we can do is keep trying and hope we get there someday.

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    • Molly, as per normal, you are just so right! Awareness is critical. And matters of the heart do not fit within my love of order and diagram – I often struggle with this, but if nothing else the last few years has taught me that everything in life does not fit nicely into the boxes that I want them to. As you say, all we can do is keep trying and hoping. 🙂

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  6. I’ve often read the comments I’ve written to you or others and thought, why can’t I tell this to myself when I’m having a low moment? I guess we are our own worst enemies sometimes. I think it’s great to work through your emotions and it’s definitely wonderful to work on your self-compassion and self-care. But, just know that, when you are being hard on yourself and feeling guilty or feeling lost because you can’t control everything, you always have us, your IF/RPL sisters, to give you a pep talk and help you along the way. That’s what friends are for, right? 🙂

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    • It really is funny how we treat ourselves versus others in the same situation! Clearly this is something we both need to change so that we are more fair to ourselves.
      And thank you so much for always being there for me. Pep talks are always so appreciated and loved. And please know the exact same thing, I will be here for you anytime! As you say, that’s what friends are for. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Perfectionism is such a horrible burden! And imagine what a pain you would be if you were in fact perfect? No one could ever dare be vulnerable to you!

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    • It really is a horrible burden! It’s an impossible standard that is only going to result in misery because it’s unachievable. And yes, I suspect you are right that it would be so hard to actually be perfect!
      Once again, you share such wise words.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, yes. That critical inner voice is a demon so many of us want to exorcise. I realized a while ago that the exorcism is less successful than cultivating a friendlier, wiser voice. A voice that is so trustworthy and solid, it drowns out the first. Wishing you that.

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  9. As usual, I’m really blown away by this post – in a good way. I relate to everything you wrote. I’ll leave it at that for now as I’m digesting this post and comment again later 😎

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  10. I was literally just talking to my husband tonight as I realized today that I have not given myself enough compassion and self care. I just got involved and overwhelmed into too many things in this season of life and forgot how difficult this journey of being a RPL/infertility mom is by itself without added stress. Thank you for writing this post and your post from Monday – they have both been helpful to me and I’m looking forward to reading along as you continue to heal and share your journey. It’s amazing to me how so many of us are struggling with so many of the same feelings and struggles. It makes me feel not so alone. Hugs to you!

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    • Thank you for reading and commenting Amber. This week has clearly been a bit reflective for me, and I’m glad that my thoughts have resonated so much with you. Please do remember to show yourself more love and compassion – maybe if we do it together it will be just a little bit easier. 🙂

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  11. I love how honest your posts always are. It’s okay for you to feel one way sometimes and another way other times. It’s called being human. 🙂

    I suspect that part of the answer to your first question is habits, routines of thinking, and the way you were raised. Or, at least those are some of the answers for me about why it’s so difficult for me to let go of old ways of thinking. It is *very* difficult to challenge your own thoughts so frequently when you have a tape playing in your head over and over again. I agree with others, though, that identifying the problem is a huge step toward improvement.

    I have worked on trying to be kinder to myself for a long time. After bullying and abuse, it is very difficult. I have good times and bad times. I know when my anxiety and depression are talking and when I’m being realistic. I know when the guilt is talking and when it is not. Because, of course I blame myself for everything including getting cancer. There has to be a reason for everything, right? Well, actually there doesn’t, but we aren’t taught to think that way. I am much happier now that I have learned tools to question what I think. That doesn’t mean it works all the time, but I am much better at it now. I know you will be better at it with time too. ❤

    I hope you have a good counseling appointment and take this challenge to be kinder to yourself with serious zest. I know you can and will get better at it! It just takes time. ❤

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    • Thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself and thoughts! I think you are right, it is hard to breakdown and break away from years of the same type of thinking! Learning tools to question what I am thinking is such an important step in self-care and I’m thrilled that you’ve equipped yourself to help navigate your own internal wiring better. Love to you my friend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I ‘ve been watching your blog for quite a while now and I can relate to so many of your feelings regarding pregnancy loss, especially feelings of failure. However, there is one thing that strikes me as an extremely unfair feeling for you to be harbouring against yourself; that you are responsible for the death of your babies, that you and your body have “killed” them. Please don’t take me wrong, I certainly do not wish to invalidate your feelings or any decisions made based on them, but I feel that it is important for you (and for any of us who has experienced pregnancy loss) to let go of that destructing view of ourselves. You did what every other parent in the world does, you gave your children the opportunity to exist, and the fact that their existence sadly ended before they were born does not hold you responsible for this tragic ending. No person who choses to bring a child into existence can completely control the child’s life, quality of life or ending and you are no more responsible for your children’s loss than any other parent would be if their child died, be it from illness or accident. I know that you are much more aware than most of life’s unfairness and uncertainty and I sincerely hope that I haven’t upset you in any way. I ‘ve been wanting to say this to you for a long time and I am doing it in the hope that it may help relief your grief. I send my best wishes to you and hope your life from now on is full of joy.

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    • Thank you so very much for reading and for commenting. I am saddened to know that you understand, but I so appreciate this comment and your perspective.
      I completely agree with you that it’s important “to let go of that destructing view of ourselves” – this is absolutely true and I think it’s a must to reach this view to achieve long term healing. Most days, I know that I did everything I could, and I know my this is not my fault. In fact, I find it very helpful to remember that my body simply has an illness that is out of my control. But, then there are the bad days, where guilt rears its ugly head and consumes my thoughts. I hope with time I am able to have fewer and fewer bad days.
      Please know that your words are comforting and I so appreciate your support and words of encouragement. Best wishes to you as well!!

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  13. This is me all over. I’ve always been extra hard on myself – extra critical and analytical of everything I do. I think partly it’s because I had a very critical father growing up, and partly because I had to have such a high level of independence from such a young age that I learnt to rely only on myself and that meant I had to be ultra-dedicated to doing everything right because I had no one else to rely on. I wish I could be kinder to myself – it’s something I want to work on because I need it desperately. I’ll be really interested to read about how you approach countering the need for perfection because it is so relevant and I know it’s something I’ve needed to address for a long time. I wish you luck on finding a happier middle-ground!

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    • What an interesting thought about the connection to being highly independent – I became fiercely independent after my mom and sister died and my dad was never around in the way I needed him to be. I think I just sort of realized that I needed to take care of things myself because I can’t rely on others to always be there.
      I’ll be sure to share my perfectionism reduction plan once I have it developed. Hopefully it works and I’m able to be a little kinder to myself. And hopefully you too are able to learn to find the happier middle-ground.

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  14. Pingback: I Am a Pretty Perfect Version of Me | My Perfect Breakdown

  15. I think self-compassion is the the most challenging to extend. Blessings to you as you keep trying.

    With heart,
    Dani

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  16. Pingback: What Does Failure Mean To Me? | My Perfect Breakdown

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