Share Your Cookies: A Lesson in Self Care

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Generally when it comes to writing these posts, I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to say. I’ll start off with a simple thought, or incident, or phrase, and grow it from there, letting my scattered brain lead my fingers in what I can only hope doesn’t come off as totally nonsensical babble. I give it a quick read through, forwards and backwards, doing my best to fix any glaring issues, and then hit that ominous blue Publish button and hope for the best. Today though, today would be different. I knew exactly what I wanted to say, and I full well intended to say it. It had boiled my blood for the past 24 hours, threatening to blow my lid off entirely. I worked out the rough draft in my mind, full of an indignant rage. For once, I would go into writing a post, knowing exactly what needed to be said, and how to say it.

That is, until a good friend of mine shared the following photo:

Think about that for a moment…

Here is this person who, by societal standards, has pretty much everything one could hope for- fame, fortune, and a place to live with no goddamned snow. Accompanying them is a person who, for all we know, only has this cookie. But they are content with this. They are happy to have this cookie- such a simple thing to be grateful for. When they share that they have this cookie, the “successful” person feels it necessary to brag about everything they have. But do they have any cookies? No. Knowing the joy that this singular baked good has brought to them, the cookie-bearer breaks the cookie in two, giving the other person the seemingly larger half. The other person doesn’t make a move to grab for it in this frame. Maybe he’s taken aback by this stranger’s kindness. Hard to tell without eyebrows or mouths. Maybe he’s just a dick. It’s a mystery, really.

But why am I psychoanalyzing some random comic posted on Facebook? Well, first of all, I have something called anxiety, and the only way I survive is by putting my imagination on a hamster wheel and letting it run wild. Secondly, this comic gets across in six frames that which I have spent countless breaths trying to explain to those who simply do not get it. Too many people are so wrapped up in doing, and buying, and getting ahead that they forget to take care of the very vessel responsible for doing all that doing, buying, and getting ahead. They forget to appreciate the little things.

Those of us who are depressed, who are addicted, who feel lost, who live in a near-constant state of anxiety, of pain, of fear. We know what it is to feel hopeless. But just looking at us, you probably wouldn’t have been able to tell. Because it is not always written on our faces, and it’s not something we’re generally inclined to share, be it out of shame, the stigma, or our being in denial ourselves. So someone may walk in, see you sitting on the couch in your robe with a book and say something like “must be nice”, and how they’d “literally give anything to just sit around all day”. They don’t realize it’s well past lunch, but you haven’t been able to bring yourself to eat. That when you do make it into the shower, you won’t be able to scrub hard enough to wash off the reek of self-loathing. That your to-do list has become so overwhelmingly long that you’re physically incapable of doing a thing. That you’d literally give anything to feel like a normal person, if only for a day.

Did that make you cringe? Have you heard that one before? After seeing a post last night about why the idea that “everything happens for a reason” is not only insulting but utter bullshit, I felt the need to vent. My fingers flew in frustration, cursing ignorance, society, and my stupid, broken brain. And in just five words, the woman who shared the post told me her reply to the must be nice-rs that’s been tumbling around my mind, but didn’t begin to resonate until I saw this comic and started writing this post.

“It is. I come first.”

How many people can say that? Truly, genuinely, say that and mean it? Perhaps this is one of those “blessings in disguise” that come with living with a chronic condition. I have to put myself first. I’m incapable of working a 60 hour work week, so I’ve grown to appreciate a simple, non-materialistic life. I only have so much energy to socialize, so I do my best to keep the right kind of company. I have been broken, tortured and tested more times than I care to count. But I have not let it turn me hard. That would be the easy route. I’m not hiding inside all day because I can afford to be lazy. I’m taking time to practice self care because I can’t afford not to. Because despite everything I’ve been through, all the ugly things I’ve experienced and how shattered I sometimes feel, I choose to believe there is good in this world, and I wish to share it with as many as I can. But one cannot pour from an empty cup.

Remember this the next time someone gives you grief over doing what you need to do to take care of you- to fill your cup. It’s terribly easy to get upset, for that defensive narrative to become an offensive one. But if that’s what you choose to fill yourself with, that’s all you’ll be able to pass along to others. So take your pants off. Read that book. Snuggle your pets. Listen to your favorite song. Go for a walk in the woods.

And share your cookies…