Tag Archives: self-care

On Feeding Myself

I just bought ingredients, made a meal and ate it. Part of me knows this shouldn’t be a big deal, not worthy of a blog post, but actually, it is. For the ‘me’ who is living with disordered eating, for all those meals on all those days where I have let the Negative Voice take over and either starved or binged: marking occasions where exceptions occur is really important. I gathered, I cooked, I ate. The world did not stop spinning.

The meal itself was pasta with tuna and pesto, and a side of broccoli. It was walking through the early night under a dark blue sky to the supermarket. It was feeling the anxiety rise inside me every time I saw people approaching, for we are reminded over and over again, this part of the world is not a place where women should walk alone . It was saying to myself, well fuck that shit, I have every right to walk these streets and why don’t they ever write about the place where most of the violence really happens, the home, in every suburb?

In the supermarket, people gather alcohol, chips, dips- things to take to parties. The AFL grand final has just been played, the streets are colourful with the paraphernalia of opposing teams.  People are gathering in celebration or just because it’s what we do, as Melbournians, on this day in September. I am not going to a party but I don’t care. I am going to cook, and eat. I have every right to eat. 

On the way home the Negative Voice berates me over food choices. Pesto is full of oil, pasta is carbohydrates, carbohydrates are bad, fishing for tuna kills dolphins…She is desperate, grasping at straws, trying to rise against this unfamiler experience of me taking care of myself. I picked the can of tuna where the label says ‘responsibly caught’ but that is not the point: I have every right to eat.  

I’ve been thinking a lot about nurture lately, about my experiences as a kid but mostly about now, as an adult, how I can chose to care for myself. If that little girl  was standing in front of me, the one who needed love and protection and reassurance that she was absolutely not as hideous as she thought she was, what would I say? What would I do? Would I tell her she wasn’t allowed to eat?

The pasta water bubbles and I chop and grate and stir, and there it is, simple, a one pot dish. This is not hard to do and yet society makes it out to be. You must eat this food, or these ones, at this time only, cooked in this way, you’re doing it wrong, buy this magazine, watch this show. Maybe all those people on Instagram with their carefully crafted pictures just want acknowledgement that they too have managed, today, to feed themselves.

I eat the food, quickly, as though somebody might take it away from me at any moment. I eat it secretly, in my room, as I have been doing for years. I enjoy it though, and I enjoy the feeling of having made it myself. I won this round, Negative Voice. I have every right to eat. 


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I Think I Can, I Hope I Can…

‘Placement’ is the subject on everyone’s minds and the word on everybody’s lips right now. We’re about to be thrust into the real world of social work, no more cotton wool, no more role-plays in classrooms where we can laugh if we stuff it up (and then critically reflect on it afterwards, of course!).

The major reason I entered this degree was because I want to contribute to change- individual, community and worldwide change- on the way we think about, experience and act on violence. Yup, big cliche, I know- the victim/ survivor becoming the advocate and change maker. But it’s true, that’s what I feel pulled towards and that’s what I’ve been doing from a very young age, before I could even name what was happening to me as ‘abuse’ and define what I was passionate about as ‘activism’.

I have a lot of insight and experience now, at the ripe old age of 23, but is it enough? I sat in a class today about childhood sexual abuse and I thought, is it still too close? Can I cope with this? Am I drawn to this kind of work for the wrong reasons?  They are confronting questions. They force me to look inside myself and sit still for more than 30 seconds and think, really think, about what I have to offer right now, and what parts of myself are still too raw. To get past the good girl who always says yes to everything, even things that aren’t helpful/ supportive for her. To let my ego get bruised a bit by acknowledging that maybe I’m not quite ready to throw myself into family violence or crisis work just yet.

But…maybe I am. Maybe that’s the the wonderful thing about placement, that you get to experience a field and a workplace while still clearly being defined as a learner, not a member of staff. Maybe I won’t know how strong I am, and what skills and talents I have, until I throw myself in and try to swim.

I was speaking about this yesterday with the Wise Woman*- basically asking, do you think I can handle this? Am I strong enough?- and she made it very clear that if I was going to do a placement in these fields, I needed to have strong supports around me, and I needed to use them. Again, pretty confronting for the part of me that finds it really hard to accept that, no matter how self-relient I think I am, I’m really just like everyone else. Even the carers need care, the supporters need to be supported.

Sometimes the best way for me to digest such a foreign idea- self care? pffft!- is to be harsh. As in, I’m no good to anybody if I burn out before I even get my degree. I can’t sit with somebody in crisis if I have no boundaries and take on all of their emotions. I can’t support other people work through their shit unless I’m committed to working through my own. I can’t model compassion for others if I don’t have any for myself.

So, I’m thinking about it. I’m listing the things I need from a placement- a space to learn, good supervision, time to debrief when needed, flexible hours to allow me to continue accessing outside support- and I’m calling on the advocate inside me, the one who fights so well for others, to come and bat for me for a while. I hope that will be enough to get me started while I learn how to do this thing called life.



*The Wise Woman is my current ‘therapeutic person’, after a number of false starts with psychiatrists/ psychologists. The Victorian public mental health service system is a complex beast (a whole other post!) but basically it didn’t meet my needs and so I now get my support and help outside of it.

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