To love and care for yourself is a self-ish process. Those who never asked themselves in all honesty what they feel, what they want, and what they need will deem these acts of personal devotion as self absorption. When you have poor boundaries, people setting up clear rules with you feels like a rejection. When you want to take time off for yourself, those who have no idea what that even means will feel pushed away.
What is self love vs. self care? Sharron Basanti from Seeds of Shakti Oracle makes a succinct distinction between the two :- “Self-love involves you holding space to love yourself unapologetically, whereas, self-care is about making the time to connect with your mind, body, and heart so that your soul doesn’t feel disassociated from the rest of you.”
Through this we now understand that self care cannot exist before the awareness and container of self love even exists. If you cannot name the need, then you cannot take steps to even begin to fulfil it. There will be a lot of time we will be racked with guilt of wanting to hold the space to love ourselves. Most times, we are concerned with what others will think when we declare “Me time’ or negotiate our terms. We cannot bear the idea of being called callous, demanding, and difficult. Then, with just that one defeating thought, the entire sacred space has vapourised; never to be realised. We go back to the comfort of living our lives for others and pretending that our needs do not matter at all.
Since love governs the domain of the heart chakra, we look at the extreme condition of the heart being over-giving. In the archetype of the Dark Mother we see these acts as self sacrifice and thus self sabotage. They operate from the heart chakra but from an aspect of depletion and resentment. The Dark Mother is the mother who on the outside is ever benevolent, all-encompassing, loving, and forever ready to sacrifice herself for her family. She works hard at her job, at her home, and is the garbage dump for all emotions, needs, and wants of others. She is always on busy mode. The well being of her kids, her husband, her pets, her house is first. She is last. It does not matter if she needs rest on her period. It does not matter if she wants to sleep in and take a day off cooking. She needs to be in control all the time and the clockwork of never-ending busy-ness is what she perceives to be the regiment of her sanity.
The Dark Mother’s twisted priority of self-sacrifice and positioning herself last will lead to a build-up of resentment and neglect. One day if not everyday she will grumble and wonder why nobody cooks for her in return? Why can’t the house be swept by someone else? Who is capable of profusely caring for her when she is indisposed? This imbalanced Mother archetype develops self-pitying thought process of not being loved and appreciated. In response to quell such horrible, scary possibilities they decide that they need to do more for everyone else so it can be seen how important she is to the world.
When the Dark Mother acts out she does it through emotional blackmail. She infuses guilt in others, making them feel indebted and thus never being able to leave her. The prison she has created for herself in her ever-sacrificing world, has been built to imprison not only her but her immediate nucleus of influence. If she is not getting out, nobody else is either. If you want psychological warfare that crushes the heart, you got it. She has an arsenal of destruction meticulously harnessed from all the times she has neglected herself for the sake of others. And everyone else owes her, just that nobody was even aware there has been a debt all this while.
Dark Mothers also treat all outsiders with suspicion as they are potential threats to the family. She knows what she controls and for dominions she has no say over, she blocks it out from her fortress. Therefore all family secrets are closely guarded. The family presents a certain image of order and harmony that may not be entirely true.
To love and care for yourself is to embody the archetype of III. The Empress. A balanced, robust, kind, and compassionate mother ; she regales in green; the colour of the Heart Chakra. She is fecund, her hair thick, her robes simple but comfortable. The Empress is connected to the land as she is intimately bound to Mother Earth. Her stable and strong demeanour is gained from being at one with the self and her ability to nourish the body. Her composure is relaxed and self-assured because the ability to create and sustain lies firmly in her hands. She lives off the fat of the land as she is the fat of the land.
Our connection to our own mother will determine our ability of self love and self care. Our relationship with nourishment and specifically; to milk and grain is an important indicator of self care abilities. Lactose and gluten intolerance is just mirroring the dysfunctional relationship we have with our mothers and subsequently Mother Earth itself. Dietary restrictions out of fear and self punishment (e.g milk is too fattening, banana is too high fructose) also blocks us from being open to receiving all that nature has to offer.
If you want to love and care then you need to be brave and fierce for yourself first. Brave to crush those thoughts that your are unworthy and deserving to be last in place. Brave enough to let the insults of being mocked a selfish asshole slide down your back. Brave to assert your needs, your wants, and your feelings. Then you need to be fierce to sustain the practice and declare that you are your own utmost priority. Without you being finely tuned and attuned, everything else is chaos and dysfunction.
People always talk about how they want to be loved. How somebody will come and love them perfectly just the way they are. There is no such thing. However, once you identify how you are able to love your self then you can communicate the same to others. Being able to ascertain your own love language will also help decide if others match our love frequency. So respect those who know how to say No, those who impose clear and firm boundaries for these form the basic tenets of loving the self. Here is to being self-ish!