Disability and domestic abuse

Before we get onto domestic abuse, I wanted to mention the low stats around disability hate crime. A home office bulletin about hate crime barely touches on disability and suggests it’s very low compared to other hate crimes.

Katharine Quarmby discusses this in a lot more detail in her book Scapegoat (an excellent but upsetting read) but to quickly run through some possible reasons for why this figure is so low:

  • a lack of flagging disability hate crimes as hate crimes
  • reports of disability hate crimes not being taken seriously by the police
  • disability hate crime happens so regularly to people that it becomes a horrible background noise.  You can’t report every person who verbally abuses you, who spits at you etc.
  • fear that reporting will make things worse for yourself
  • inaccessible police stations or lack of appropriate communication support
  • a feeling that it won’t make any difference whether you report it or not so why would you bother when it might include several bus journeys, an inaccessible building etc

Most hate crime occurs outside, but near, a victims’s home.  Disability hate crime differs in that it often occurs within the home.  It is often carried out by people known to the victim, either close relationships (including the horribly termed “mate crime”) or people known in passing.

Domestic abuse and disability, the situation

The statistics around domestic abuse and disability are shocking:

  • “The 1995 British Crime Survey found that disabled women were twice as likely to experience domestic violence as non-disabled women.”  In 2008, Women’s Aid confirmed this was still the case.
  • “Women with learning difficulties are even more likely to be at risk and the level of violence that they experience is also likely to be higher.  The more dependent they are and the more complex their needs, the more likely it is that they will be at risk, as are women with mental health problems.”
  • “More than 70% of women with learning difficulties are sexually assaulted, a rate that is twice as high as for those in the general population.”

(quotes from Scapegoat by Katharine Quarmby)

A government report adds that:

  • Disabled women are significantly more likely to experience domestic abuse than disabled men and experience more frequent and more severe domestic abuse than disabled men.
  • As being disabled carries further risk of domestic abuse, disabled men also experience higher rates of abuse than non-disabled men. Disabled men experience a similar rate of domestic abuse as non-disabled women

What form does the abuse take?

In addition to the “usual” methods of abusing a person, if that person has a disability, the abuser may also:

  • withhold vital care, medication or food
  • remove or damage equipment such as sensory or mobility aids in order to limit their independence
  • obstacles around the home so that a person with visual or mobility difficulties is afraid to move around independently
  • claim disability benefits on their behalf and limit their access to funds
  • use the disability to criticise or humiliate them. Or threaten to tell social services that they are not fit to live alone

In addition to this, the nature of having a disability can leave a victim more physically vulnerable and less able to protect themselves.  Or less aware that the treatment is not acceptable.

I have read and heard about women who had their battery removed from their wheelchairs; people with limited communication who had their communication device taken away from them; leaving people in defecated clothing; not letting a person spend any time alone with professionals and other horrific offences.

Further vulnerabilities

Mi casa es su casa – my house is your house

Being disabled can increase the number of people who enter your home.  So many different people come through my house, opening me up to increased chance of domestic abuse simply by the fact that there are more people.

I have nine different carers who come to my home and let themselves in using the keys in my lock box.  There are also carers who I no longer have but who still know how to enter my flat.  I also have lots of medical people visit.  My friends know the code to the lock box in case anything happens to me.  My social worker and OT know the code and meet me in my flat.  My benefits advisor and various other people all meet me in my flat.  And this could put me in a vulnerable situation.

Partners as carers

If your partner is your carer, and even more so if they’re your only carer, you are more vulnerable.

Should they chose to, they can play on your dependency.  They can isolate you – this is a common abusive technique but if you can’t walk or go out alone then it’s much easier to do this.

They can control your money by claiming you are unable to do this yourself.  They can control your resources.  They can control your health.  If I was denied access to my medication, which I can’t give to myself, I would end up having an asthma attack, severe pain and more.  And if these were stopped cold turkey, the withdrawal would be hell and could even kill me.

Neglecting disabled people can have awful consequences.  Whether that’s not giving medication or not helping people to the toilet etc, it ranges from life threatening to stripping someone of their dignity.

Abusive language, common in domestic abuse, can hit closer to home – being told you’re useless, a burden etc rings closer to the truth if your partner is your carer.

If your partner is your main or only carer, how do you then go to the council to meet with a social worker to talk about your abusive partner?  When do you meet with domestic abuse workers?  When do you even get to contact a domestic abuse service?  Especially if your partner is controlling your communication devices (whether they be communication boards or even just keeping your phone out of reach of your wheelchair).

Trying to get help

Barriers to support

If a victim receives support for domestic abuse then they are often the ones who end up leaving the home.  In the case of disabled people, this is often exceptionally difficult – there is already a shortage of accessible housing and the house they are living in is possibly personally adapted to them.  I don’t know much about the accessibility of refuges but the little I know suggests it might not be straightforward in most cases (past being able to get into the building, I’m thinking things like a suitable bathroom, someone to provide the care you need etc).

Additionally, leaving an abusive partner may bring worries about who will provide care if they move away, or about a change to their care package in a new area that could leave them with less support

In 2011, there was just one specialist refuge for women with learning difficulties in the UK.  A quick google search hasn’t helped me find out there are more now and what do you do if you don’t live in the area…

As I’ve outlined about, disabled people are more likely to be environmentally or socially isolated which increases risk of domestic abuse but also reduces support available to help.

“Unreliable witness”

People with learning difficulties and communication disabilities are often considered to be “unreliable witnesses”.  This means that they are less likely to be believed if they report the crime.  If they are believed then they’re less likely to get to court.  If they get to court then the victims are often considered unsuitable to testify.  Given the nature of domestic violence happening behind closed doors, this leaves victims without any protection.  And perpetrators know this.

However, progress is being made in this area.  In 2009, Devon and Cornwall’s CPS prosecuted a man for sexual offences against disabled women without speech.  A lot of support from a witness service volunteer resulted in using a video link, symbols and eye movements to give evidence.


For more information and support please visit Refuge’s website.

Spirit Cats Oracle Deck

IMG_20160821_113122.614
My deck interview: Top – Trust, Middle Left – Unique, Middle Right – Intuition, Bottom Left – Connection, Bottom Right – Seeker

Another new deck!  This time it’s the long awaited Spirit Cats Oracle Deck from Nicole Piar through Kickstarter.

This 48 cat themed deck is made up of gorgeous, high quality square cards which each feature a different cat on one side and a key word and information about the cat on the other side.  Each cat has their own name and the information tells you about their personality.  The detailed healing message means that this would be a nice deck for someone who is new to oracle cards or divination.

They are beautiful little works of art with dreamy, mystical images.

You can find out more about the creation of the deck over on Little Red Tarot.  I love the way they revealed themselves to Nicole, starting off as a small daily practice.

The kickstarter package I chose also included the small wooden token in the middle of the photo.

As with the lumina tarot, I did a new deck interview:

Your most important characteristic

Trust, Safi (card, cat name)- Whilst this card is about trust, it’s also about safety and light in the darkness.  Trust the path, trust your intuition, trust that the light will be there.

Your strengths

Unique, Helix – This deck will encourage me to embrace my true self, to be my brilliant self.  To live a twinkling, dazzling life and to encourage others to be themselves.

Your weaknesses

Intuition, Ghostkitten – I need to keep developing my intuition so that I can hear the messages more clearly.

How best can I collaborate with and learn from you?

Connection, Spirit Cats – We need to work together, to see how we are connected to the rest of the universe.  This card reminds me in some ways of temperance; the mixing of elements, strengths etc.

What is the potential outcome of our relationship?

Seeker, Spiral – Working together I will develop my curiosity, I will become a soul searcher, I will get to know and understand myself more fully.

Ill health retirement

When I first started to think about retiring due to ill health, I did what I always do, and googled it.  And very little came back.  There were lots of results about specific pension plans and how to apply for ill health retirement.  But that wasn’t what was looking for.  I wanted to know things like how much would I get from my pension, how would interact with benefits, and perhaps most importantly what on earth would I do and how would I cope.

Work doesn’t just provide for us financially, it gives us routine, a sense of purpose, routes towards achievement.  We have relationships at work, we have challenges and problems to solve and all of these are really good for us.

There’s lots of advice out there about transitioning into retirement, my employer even runs a course about it!  But it’s all aimed at people of retirement age and I was 28.  And ill.  My experience was inevitably going to be very different.

I don’t know anyone else who has retired at 28.  It felt like I was the only person going through this.  Obviously I wasn’t, but it felt like it.  And it was that feeling of isolation and feeling that I was taking a path no one else had trodden that motivated me to pull together some of my thoughts and experiences about this process.  Whilst it’s a path that very few people will take, I hope that my words will help that minority.

I shall be gradually posting about my experiences but if you have any questions, please ask (obviously I don’t know any details about pension plans etc, I’m really meaning questions about the emotional side of things).

Should I retire?

The decision to retire on ill health is not always an easy one.  Well, I don’t think it’s never an easy decision but in some circumstances it’s a much clearer path.  For example, if you’ve been off sick for a year or your health has suddenly changed, it may feel more clear cut.  If on the other hand, you have a degenerating illness like myself, it can be so hard to know where that line is.

For me, I finally admitted to myself that I could no longer do this over Christmas 2015.  I had had some time off and then went into work for a day.  By the end of that day I was completely and utterly exhausted.  I didn’t have the energy to sit up and I struggled to talk to my carer.  I don’t mean make polite conversation, I couldn’t even find the words to tell her what I wanted to eat.  Not that I had to mental space or energy to make that decision.  It was that day I realised the impact work was having on me.  Despite having had some time to rest and prepare for my day in work it had still destroyed me.

In terms of options, I guess the main question to ask yourself is is there a way of adapting my work circumstances which would then allow me to continue in my job.  This includes things like access to work assessments if you’re in the UK, working from home, reducing your hours or changing your work hour pattern etc.  Your HR department or union representative should be able to advise on this.  If it’s feasible, you could try taking sick leave and seeing if having a period of rest helps your health.

If the decision to retire is not a clear-cut one, then I would recommend getting an estimate for your pension because this might sway you one way or another.  Financial insecurity was one of my motivators for pushing myself to keep working.

It turns out my pension payments are actually higher than my wages were – I had to reduce my hours due to my health so my pension reflected the full time wage.  However, also check if you will need to pay for care.  I assumed that because I didn’t pay for care whilst I was working that I wouldn’t when I retired.  Turns out that’s not the case…. But that’s a story for another day!

The beautiful Lumina Tarot

lumina

An amazing fellow 78 Mirrors student very kindly gifted me her Lumina tarot deck after I feel in love with it.

One of the first things I do with a new deck is interview it… For me, it’s a fun way to start using the deck and get familiar with the cards.

IMG_20160818_123638.125

My full moon spread using Lumina and the Wild Unknown Tarot decks
not my interview spread*

What is your most important characteristic – Maiden of Pentacles

This beautiful card is about possibilities and potential as well as blossoming dreams and inspiration.  Given the gorgeous art work, the deck is definitely inspiring and I find it quite energising.  I feel like they are gently nurturing but also pushing me out of my comfort zone.

What are your strengths – 5 of Cups

The book which comes with the deck says this card is about healing or self destruction.  Given the context I’m going with healing from self destruction which tends to be how I read the five of cups anyway.  The card is also about being stuck, having difficulty accepting something or letting go of it.  Tying yourself to your pain means you can untie yourself.  I see this deck as being helpful in that process; helping you to see where you are causing yourself pain and then releasing it.

What are your limits – Judgement

The cards alone cannot change things.  I need to step into my power, I need to work on my understanding.  Further, if I am not open to hearing the truth, I can limit my interpretation of the cards and hence limit the role the deck could play.

How can I best learn and collaborate with you – Temperance

The book actually says “this is a card of practice”.  It doesn’t get more blatant than that!  Further, it’s about taking the wisdom from the readings and actually melding it into my life.  Consciously choosing to take what I discover and use it to harmonise myself and create balance in my life.  I’m good at getting insight from the cards and then not really doing much with that.

What is the potential outcome of our relationship – Knight of Cups

A new venture which ignites your heart and soul. Following your heart over head.  Creative action and passion.  Sounds exciting!


*apologies for the strange photo and lack of interview photo – my tablet smashed and I can’t use the right hand side of it which includes the click button for the camera…

Learning tarot, the low cost way

Taking up tarot can be expensive. There’s the cost of the decks which vary dramatically (my beautiful Wild Unknown deck was £34 and I felt I had to get the book as well as i was a beginner, another £16); the cost of books for general information as well as specific books for specific decks; the cost of courses ; the cost of getting readings (which can be a helpful way to learn).

Before you know it, you’re down a few hundred pounds…

This blog post was prompted by someone finding my blog by Googling “alternative tarot for someone with no money” so here are my thoughts on ways you can learn and practice tarot without the high price tag.

Deck

Some decks are cheaper than others but you can also download and print some decks eg from Dark Tarot, through Etsy or David’s Tarot. Print them on card (or glue onto card) and you have a very cheap deck.

If you want a professional printed deck, you’ll find Rider Waite Smith decks cheap online or even in second hand or discounted book shops.

However, if you can, I would recommend waiting for a deck that leaps out at you and asks to be taken home. My wild unknown deck was expensive but I use it most days and I love it more than all my other decks and connect to it much more strongly. So for me, it has definitely been worth the cost. I wouldn’t have got anywhere near as much insight if i’d started with the Rider Waite Smith deck and possibly wouldn’t be so into tarot.

Other tarot readers are a good source of second hand decks – they’re so tempting that often people buy lots and don’t click with them all.  Indeed one of my fellow students on 78 mirrors has offered to sent me their Lumina tarot deck which they’ve not clicked with.

Another way to dramatically reduce the cost of tarot is to get a tarot app instead. There are some good ones and a few do a free tester version so you can see if you like it.  Galaxy Tone seems to have a good reputation.

Books

Other than the Wild Unknown book, I didn’t buy my first tarot book until a few weeks ago. There is a vast amount of great information online so I haven’t needed to.

A few of my favourite sites for understanding cards, getting ideas for spreads, finding out about decks etc are:

The book I have bought is one which I’ve seen recommended over and over again, Carrie recommended it when I asked for her suggestions and its come up again in 78 Mirrors. It’s 78 Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack and seems to be a bit of a tarot bible.

My copy is 350 pages starting with a bit of history before moving onto the major arcana, the minor arcana and then readings. It was first published in 1980 in two parts. I’m onky up to page 73 (the strength card) but so far it’s very informative, very readable and very helpful. She goes into a lot of detail about each card and looks at the imagery and symbolism (predominately that in the Rider Waite Smith deck which is helpful for other decks as well). I don’t know much about myths, religion and symbology so I’m finding it quite illuminating.


My copy was about £5 from amazon but given its popularity I would expect to find it in charity shops as well (side note, I would prefer more charity bookshop shopping but so many of them round here have steps or are too tightly packed to get a wheelchair round. If you run one, check on how accessible you are).

There are other amazing looking books out there about tarot that you might really want, but if you’re strapped for cash, you really don’t need them.

Courses

Again, you don’t need to do a course but they can provide a structured approach and possibly other learners.

Little Red Tarot ‘s alternative tarot course is $25 and gives you 8 weeks of lessons and exercises. I actually got the course for $20 through a discount code Beth sent with her newsletter. There is also the alternative tarot community which has a section for people following the course to talk. The course itself is one you do alone at your own pace and because it’s very reflective, I didn’t feel I missed having course mates

I haven’t done it but Susannah Conway’s Daily Guidance course is supposed to be very good, although it is pricier at £67. Her second tarot course, 78 Mirrors is £117 and is very good so far. These do have an optional Facebook group for peer support and Susannah has posted a lot in there herself. If you sign up to her newsletter you get alerted to new courses and often a discount code.

There are other courses available free via regular emails etc including learn tarot and The Tarot Lady.

Being honest with yourself about your eating disorder

“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”

~Louise L. Hay

These are all questions I’ve been asked during my recovery process, and found helpful at some point (you aren’t always ready for a question and that’s ok). I wanted to pull them together so other people can use them as journal prompts or whatever. They may or may not be helpful and certainly not helpful to everyone all of the time.

***

be brave 1

Do you want to recover?

It’s ok if the answer is no, well, ok might not be the right word but unfortunately I really think you have to want to recover. Which is infuriating for the people around you who care and who hate seeing you in pain.

If your answer is no, I’d still urge you to keep reading or at least consider why not.

What purpose does your eating disorder serve?

I don’t think many eating disorders are really about eating or appearances when you get to the heart of them. Mine was about numbing my emotions big style, it was about control, it was about low self worth, it was about shame.

My eating disorder was a way of coping when I was suicidal. In a twisted way, anorexia saved my life. But it also tried to kill me.

Do you know what is you and what is your eating disorder?

Example, a 10k run went past my flat recently. Anorexia responded by saying oh, we could do that, let’s look up couch to 5k online and get out there. I genuinely got as far as opening Google before I kicked back in and reminded myself I can’t walk or use a manual wheelchair. Running is out the question. That’s how powerful an eating disorder can be. And if I hadn’t done a lot of work separating the eating disorder from me, I think it’d have taken longer for the rational part of me to kick back in.

Why does recovery scare you?

No, not because you might gain weight etc. Really, what’s the real reason?  The emotional reason.

Mine was a fear of feeling emotions. A fear of having to face the hellish depression which had preceded the eating disorder. It was also a fear of feeling out of control.

What does recovered look like for you?

I was asked this numerous times.  And the answer changed depending on where in my recovery I was/am.

For me, recovering meant not having to constantly think about food.

It meant reclaiming my brain and my identity.

It meant not being a hypocrite ; I strongly feel people shouldn’t diet and that looks don’t matter, I don’t care what other people look like.

Recovery meant not lying to my friends: are you OK? Yes. Are you hungry?  No. Have you lost weight? No.

And although I’m don’t feel I’m fully recovered, I now have space in my head for thoughts which aren’t about food and I’m being a million times more honest with my friends now than I’ve ever been.

If you want to recover, what are you doing which works against that?

I would think oh, I can recover whilst still doing x, or without doing y.  Somehow I was special, my body was different to everyone else who has an eating disorder.  So what everyone else has to eat regularly as part of recovery, I’m special, my body doesn’t like/need/want to do that… (I’m 99% sure that’ll be the eating disorder talking, trying to keep its claws in you cos recovery terrifies it, if you recover, it dies.)

What is your eating disorder robbing you of?

For me, it was the ability to think, relationships with friends, being able to go out for a drink, enjoyment of food, very nearly my job…

My health – you probably already know all the shit health impacts and are probably thinking somehow they won’t affect you, that’s what everyone thinks…

Who are you with the eating disorder? and Who are you without the eating disorder?

This can be tough to answer even if you’ve not had an eating disorder for very long. The nature of it means you lose touch with who you are and you can’t see who you could be or who you want to be. You forget what interests you.

All of your energy goes into the disorder, how else could you use this?

What did you used to enjoy, be interested in, do with your time?

What makes you come alive?

What might it feel like to love yourself?

I’m not asking you to love yourself, but what might it feel like it you did?

What stories do you tell of yourself? What language do you use to talk of yourself?

It’s so easy to believe our thoughts and take our feelings as fact.  They aren’t always, especially not if you have an eating disorder.  The words we use (internally and externally) to describe ourselves, our experiences etc, those words stick.

“Unloveable, fat, ugly, stupid, idiot, bitch” are words which run through my head.  They run through my head a lot less now because I’ve done some tough work challenging them.  But think about it, if you hear all day that you’re a stupid bitch, you start to believe it.

So, try and do yourself a favour, learn to notice and then learn to challenge your head messages and think about the words you choose when you’re speaking about yourself to others.

what else

I hope there’s something here which you’ve found useful.  I strongly encourage you to go away and journal about these questions or other similar prompts – writing can help you breakthrough things in a way that thinking often doesn’t.

Recovery is hard work, but it’s so much better that the eating disorder and I hope you choose to fight.

“Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure”

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? …

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do…

It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

– Marianne Williamson

A lot of the time when you mention power, people think of authoritarian power, of dictators, of control but we all have power.  Power is not good or bad, it’s all about how you use it. You can use it to oppress people or use it to empower yourself and others. The key is you and your intention.

Side note: I have just been through this post and added in the word me where I had been using you or a general term.  This is one way I give away my power.  I distance things from myself.  I had a job interview a few years ago for a management position.  I spent the whole time trying to remember to say me instead of we.  As a team, us sharing the power instead of me claiming it worked really well but in the job interview, it was going to devalue what I had done.  Similarly, in this post, all about reclaiming my power, I need to speak specifically about me.

My short journey (so far) towards embracing my power

First step, acknowledge that I surrendered my power.

I surrendered it to my eating disorder, my depression, my pain, my mother, a lot of people around me, to my circumstances.  To be honest, I gave my power to whoever or whatever would take it.  I was not forced to give my power away.  I chose to.  Perhaps not consciously, but the key is that I surrendered it so I can reclaim it.  We all have power (except in very extreme situations), even if we’re in a difficult situation with lots of external forces at work and we have very little say in our lives, we have the power of our thoughts and how we approach a situation.

Second, consciously decide that I want to reclaim it, embrace it.  

Parts one and two happened for me during a new moon ritual which was going to be about letting go of bad relationships, including anorexia, and stepping into a world of creating, learning, of balance and rhythm, of logic and intuition. But I guess this was where I needed to go instead.

Third, how the hell do I actually do this?!

This step involved a tarot spread which turned out to be quite an intense, interesting spread with some super strong synchronicities going on.  I’m going through the process of writing it up and collecting journal prompts based on my observations and ponderings.

wp-1470403286207.jpg

The spread considers:

  • what my power is (ten of wands, wheel of fortune and the moon)
  • what holds me back from embracing my power (mother of cups)
  • what can help me overcome this (father of cups)
  • what can help me to embrace my power (two of wands)
  • what can I do right now (ace of wands)
  • what does owning my power look like (the world)

I think these would all work well as journal prompts on their own, without the tarot, although the cards do add a good starting point and help me think about things which I wouldn’t get to without them.

Uh-oh…

Then came a glitch. My mother visiting.

My reaction to her visit could easily been seen as disempowering; I hid a lot of what makes me who I am (tattoos, tarot, crystals, art work, reading material etc) and I became quite passive whilst she was here.

However both of these things are currently really important for my self protection. I know that I am not ready to have her pick my life and identity apart. Maybe one day I will be. In the meantime, I did make some small progress; instead of lying to avoid difficult conversations, I just didn’t respond to questions or comments that I knew would go down a bad route if I responded truthfully. And yes, she did say some hurtful things and I didn’t stand up for myself but I do feel I maintained more integrity that I have on previous occasions.  Small wins are still wins!

And life is full of times when it is harder to do the thing you want to do, ideally these are challenges which you can overcome, the thing which tests if you’re really embracing your power.  But it’s also ok if you aren’t ready to face that particular thing.  For me, I weigh up how far back doing something will set me.  Facing my mother would probably put me back to where I was pre-therapy right now.  Not a good plan.  Let’s keep building my foundations and once I have a more firm standing, then maybe we’ll try that.

Getting back on track…

See where my power currently goes.

For me, my power currently goes to my neighbours, my care agency, my disability, organisations/buildings etc which are not accessible, the government who are taking my money.  It still goes to my eating disorder, my anxiety and my depression but a lot less than it did.

Is your power going to your depression, to your partner, to your narcissistic mother? You can’t reclaim your power till you know where it is. Examine the relationships you have. It’s not always obvious when someone is sucking your power. It can be in the form of blatantly putting you down. It can also be treating you as if you aren’t worth much but in a much less obvious way. It can be through constant moaning or expecting you to be there but never reciprocating.

Tell my story (over and over again).

tell your story

In my case, and a lot of other cases I think, my eating disorder and depression kept their control and power by keeping me silent. Talking hurts. It makes you feel horrible and vulnerable. But it also is a huge fuck you to whatever it is that’s oppressing you.

And as yukky and self obsessive and whiney as you may feel, talking does help.  But part of talking is having to face the vulnerability hangover as well.  But that’s the sign that it’s working.  It’s the sign that your eating disorder or whatever it is for you is in panic mode.  They’re losing control or power over you and the nasty feeling is a way of stopping you from talking again so that they remain in control.

Brene Brown talks a lot about shame and vulnerability, if you’ve not come across her, do watch her TED talk.

Listen to my needs.

This means all my needs; emotional, physical, spiritual… We all have needs and shutting them off and not hearing them is a way of invalidating yourself. Meeting your needs is a powerful act. Especially in this world where we’re told what we should want or need and when and how and even if to meet that need.

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

Or good, or powerful.  Look at what makes you feel good or powerful and do more of it. Make it a regular part of your life.

For me, this can be advocating for someone or something. Sharing my opinions in consultations etc.  It can be finishing a piece of art or writing. Doing something which stretches me a bit. Doing something that I’ve tried to stop myself from doing.

I’m full of “valid” excuses (accessibility, weather, pain, energy) and I know I use them to avoid doing things. But I’m getting better at noticing and calling myself out on it. This doesn’t mean I always do the thing but at least I’m being more honest about why.

Look at what messages my surroundings are giving me.

Surround yourself with people, things etc which empower you. My Twitter feed is a mix of friends, activism, body positive people, eds people, tarot people and such. It’s not all sunshine and roses and I don’t want it to be. That would really irritate me.  But equally I didn’t want it filled with body shaming, gossiping, backstabbing and hurting people. The same goes for things i read and watch and listen to.

I talked a bit about this over in my post about peace including some examples of newsletters etc which I find support my re-embracing of my power.

I no longer have a TV license because I found I was watching anything and everything including a lot of programmes which made me feel bad about myself.  I now have to make a more conscious choice about what I watch on netflix etc because leaving the channel on and watching whatever comes up next isn’t an option.  I still watch a lot of mindless, cheesy stuff but I’m making the decision to.

“The more aware you are of what you’re absorbing and thinking, the less likely you are to burn out” – Girl Boss Woo

Embracing my power doesn’t mean doing everything myself. Indeed, I can’t do everything myself, I can’t dress or wash myself.  Embracing my power means being able to delegate, letting others help me and asking for help when I need it.

Whilst you’re looking around, take a look at your personal, emotional boundaries.  Are they there?  Are they too strong?  Too weak?  Find your own way to set, maintain or strengthen them. Maybe visualisation works for you, maybe not. We’re all different.  Again, I’ve mentioned this in a bit more detail in my post about peace.

Remind myself that I do not need permission from others.

I am giving myself the permission to do things, I don’t need other people to give me permission to do something, go somewhere or even to take up space.

Similarly, I don’t need external validation. This is a HUGE HUGE HUGE thing for me. But I don’t need external validation.  Instead I’m going to work on finding ways to be able to validate my own feelings, experiences etc.

And the obligatory self care mention…

Yes, I know, it’s the buzz word.  But it’s also genuinely important.  Take the time to look after yourself. Put your needs first. Without your needs being taken care of, you aren’t any good to yourself let alone others.

Self care isn’t just about having a bath.  It’s much much more and you need to find what works for you.

wp-1470056665666.jpg

For me, it’s about making sure I keep some balance in my life, plan in rest time, plan my meals ahead so I eat reasonably well (but also don’t stick rigidly to the plan, flexibility is good).  I know from a lot of reflection that I feel better if I have done at least one thing creative, one thing intellectual, something restful, gone outside and checked in with myself each week.  My friday check ins allow me to keep track and ensure I keep balance in my life.

Make yourself a self care checklist, make some of it habit, that way when things are tough, you’re more likely to the things on your list.  Some of the things on my body image post are ways I look after myself so that might give you some ideas if you’re looking for them.

Recognising who you are, your strengths, your beauty is a powerful act, especially in a world which is set up to make you feel bad about yourself* 

*so you then buy the magic fix…