The Brutal Art of Self-Care

    by Angela Zimmerman

    Any amount of time spent on social media will bombard you with platitudes and neo-hippie self-help images. Pictures of horizons with white font giving you some inspirational quote on how to live your best life.

    People sharing pictures of recent purchases, salon days, and spontaneous “vacays” all with the hashtag #selfcare underneath.

    And while it may seem vapid, it’s not wrong. Self-care is important.

    We currently live in a world that apparently took advice from Kurt Cobain. It’s too bad the advice was a Neil Young quote in a suicide letter.

    Both of them are wrong. It is not better to burn out than fade away. It’s not better at all.

    Everyone has different ways to stay out of the flames. And with that come different ideas of what self-care actually is. But the truth that is often overlooked is the thing that no one wants to talk about.

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    Self-care is not always glamorous. It’s often dirty, nasty, and downright brutal.

    It’s graveyard dirt underneath your fingernails and the scent of sage in your hair.

    It’s the copper smell that fills the kitchen when you clean a carcass where life had once been.

    It is understanding the consequences of what you are going to do and graciously agreeing to them for your desire to come to fruition.

    It’s screaming in the shower, in your car, or in your bed. Chasing the demons out of your mind into the daylight and ugly crying until you vomit. Face full of snot and mouth full of bile you stand toe to toe with the assassin from inside of you.

    The act of separating your pain from your soul is not beautiful like a resurrection. It’s beautiful like an exorcism.

    Sometimes self-care is ditching calls and throwing up middle fingers.

    It’s finding the bottom of your well of compassion. When you find that the wolves at your neck were once your kin you can either continue to cower or you can bare your teeth.

    Self-care becomes a dexterous blending of acknowledging your pain and holding the source responsible. It will leave you lonely. But it will also make you free.

    It’s blood on your hands, your legs, your lips. Learning to love and nurture yourself no matter the phase of the moon is soul fulfilling indulgence.

    Spilling your blood for your art is a sacrificial type of self-care. Sweating and bleeding, cursing and howling for your passion is the type of sanguine self-devotion that will raise you from the depth of nothingness.

    Self Care is both the burn of a new tattoo as well as the burn of an added mile onto your run.

    The bedizenment of your bodily temple of ink, metal, lipstick, exercise or dye are all ways to nourish yourself. There is a sacred space in the middle of the pains of change. That is where you heal.

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    And sometimes, the greatest self-care you can ever participate in is saying no more and walking away.

    If it keeps you from turning into ash, there is no shame in leaving deeds undone and words unsaid.

    Self-care is not a Get Out Of Jail Free card. It’s not an invitation to gluttonize yourself into a false sense of security. True self-care is a call to arms to prepare you for the next round of survival.



    If this essay resonates with you, please join our WITCH email list by using the forms on this website so we can stay in touch.

    About the Author:

    Angela Zimmerman is a stay at home witch, aspiring blogger, and mother of dragons anxiously living a domestic life. You can follow her wanderings at Conjure and Coffee.


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