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Self-Love & Self-Care

4 October 2022

A frequent disagreement that Michael (my husband) and I have is that I'm not taking care of myself.

His View: I do A LOT and need to do things for me to help me relieve my stress.

My View: My job is demanding, a lot is expected from me, needed from me, and I am NOT DOING ENOUGH or need to get better at what I am doing. If I slow down and something goes wrong, I will be seen as incompetent, selfish, untrustworthy, undeserving of my position.

His View: I deserve good things. I deserve to be happy and for us to be happy together. If others think ill of me for resting or making a mistake, that is not a problem with me but of them.

My View: I don't know how to experience happiness without some level of guilt. There's always someone suffering, someone who needs help, or someone who deserves this good thing more than me. If I don't give everything I have to be as close to perfect as possible or provide what others or the organization needs, myself and whoever I represent/am responsible for, will not be accepted. I cannot risk dealing with that reality.

Back and forth, back and forth we go. I've been asking myself lately of why is it so hard for me to rest and experience joy without guilt? Why do I keep feeling like if I allow myself to be happy or take rest, something bad will happen or I won't be accepted? I'll get cut or be erased; invisible. I won’t survive. Where did the ideology in me come from that I must always put others before myself and that I don't deserve to feel good without some sort of consequence in return?

The other day I had a flood of random memories. I thought about how so much of the media I consumed taught me that my value as a woman came from being seen as "pretty" by other people or in what I am able to do for them. I thought about how so many of my guy friends in grade school let it be known that their preference in dating was for Asian, White, Hispanic women. Where I grew up, Black women were not seen as attractive or were seen as "having too much attitude" or "angry" or "ghetto" or "sex objects". I worked HARD to not be this stereotype. To prove to others that Black women are not limited to just one thing. That we are human just like everyone else. I molded myself so much to fit the beauty standards of the times and while I was able to get attention from men, I still found myself objectified or seen as being "pretty for a Black girl." Translation: not enough.

Another memory brought me back to working at the commissary as a bagger when I was in High School. After loading the groceries into the car of one of the older male customers, he grabbed the back of my neck, held it started rubbing on it and said, "If I were younger these are all the things I'd like to do to you...." I froze, he said his comments and gave me about a dollar in change as payment for my bagging his groceries and loading them in his car. I told my supervisor what happened; he said he was sorry that happened to me.

While attending community college I was sexually harassed almost daily going to my classes. (If you went to Solano and you walked by "the clock" YOU KNOW what I'm talking about). A couple of times I was even getting followed. It got so bad that I decided to wear baggier clothing to hide my body and take different routes to class, but somehow, I still was getting harassed. Nothing seemed to stop it. I coped by blocking it out of my mind and eventually transferring out of the school when I was eligible to study at the University.

In 2010, After completing my first marathon, my dad treated me to pizza at one of the local restaurants Sacramento. As he was placing the order, I stood right next to him at the register counter. An older man approached me (looked to be about mid 40's) and started asking me about the marathon (he could tell from my attire that I participated in it). As I talked to him, next thing I know he takes his finger and starts rubbing it down my arm. I looked at him in shock and ran away to the bathroom. I thought to myself. My dad was literally RIGHT THERE and that man felt so bold to touch me. What is wrong with some of these men?

During my junior year of college, I took a job as a receptionist at a school. I would go to class during the day, commute an hour to my job, then work for five hours at night. One of the faculty members would often comment on my appearance. I tried to be polite and just brush it off. One night, I was walking to the other side of the building to grab something off the printer, and he cornered me in the hallway. I tried to walk past him, but he wouldn’t let me go by. He then leaned into my ear and made a comment about my appearance. I went back to my desk. I was 20 and he was at least 60. I was very uncomfortable.

I told one of the teaching staff and she told me that she doesn’t think he meant it like that, and I should tell him how his comments made me uncomfortable. When I saw him again I did just that. I told him that his comments made me uncomfortable and that I want to maintain a professional work environment. He grabbed my arm, started rubbing it and said, "No, no I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable Kristin." I told him to stop and that he was doing it again by touching me. The next day I told my supervisor what happened. I then was told to meet with the CEO. The CEO shared with me that due to some changes they would like to make in my position, and some conflicting hours with my status as a student, they were changing my work status from "part-time" to "on call". Translation: I was LET GO.

I have more stories but that's all I'm willing to share on social media. Michael tells me that despite every thing he does, he still feels like I have distrust. I didn't see it before but I see it now. Every time he does something I perceive as good or bad I have to have conversations in my mind telling me that, "Michael is a FRIENDLY. He LOVES you. He's not out to get ya."

Self-Love & Self-Care is something I am constantly evolving in learning how to do. I am learning more and more why I keep craving SAFETY and PROTECTION.

Thank you for the early anniversary gift at the spa this past weekend Michael and for all of your patience in helping me see myself as I really am, and not settling for less.

Photos: Surprise Spa date to celebrate our marriage anniversary and practice one form of “Self-Care.”


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