July 2011 Self Care Retreat: Self Care Through Connecting with Family, Friends & Pets

by Valerie on July 28, 2011 · 4 comments

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Shirley of Gluten Free Easily is our host this week for the self care retreat Cheryl and I are hosting, and her post on self-care through connecting with others completely blew me away, as it hit so many different topics that are all so relevant to this theme.  So many parts of her post resonated with me, and I think they will with you as well. I encourage you to read it.  Shirley also hosted a fabulous guest blogger on the topic of self care.

There are so many ways to nourish ourselves through relationships, and I am lucky to find it with my husband, friends and some of my family.  That said, one aspect I did want to bring up, which is more uncomfortable, but nevertheless an aspect of self-care and relationships is, what do you do with friendships and relationships that leave you drained, depleted or hurt.  I am a big proponent of finding a way to limit such interactions,but it is hard,and we all have different strategies to do that.

When I initially went gluten-free, it was during a period of time where I (thankfully) had no work social engagements and could afford to completely eliminate eating out for 2 months, which I knew I needed to do from a physical perspective.  Emotionally, too, I knew this was important.  I had already cut out dairy and refined sugar and eggs and fried foods and a host of things, but was still experiencing bad cravings for all of the above, and generally was having a hard time being around foods I could not have anymore. Fortunately, two years later, I am fairly unaware of most of these foods in restaurant settings (yay for progress!) but at the time the cravings gave me bad headaches and also upset me a lot.  I had a friend with whom dinner out was our standard social interaction, particularly because we were both very busy.  I remember saying to her “I really cannot eat out during the next few weeks, and I cannot sit at a restaurant and watch you eat and just have herbal tea because it is giving cravings” and she would not budge, despite suggestions of a walk, a manicure, a yoga class, Starbucks – her answer to all of these was that she could only socialize over meals as she was tremendously busy.

At the time I was tremendously hurt, though hindsight allows me more compassion – she was clearly at a very overwhelming point in her life, and that was a boundary that helped her, but unfortunately, I could not budge on my end, and neither could she.  The compromise was that we did not interact for a months, and eventually did find common ground with going for a walk or, since I was comfortable eating out again at a small list of places, meeting for a meal.  I also later found out she herself had a lot of health problems she was ignoring, while I was taking mine head on, and I think that contributed to further discomfort in our friendship during that time.  The whole episode was an important lesson in self-care for me, and in relationships. It also made me really value friends who later said things like “let’s go out for dinner, but I will let you pick the restaurant since that makes things easier for you.”

This virtual self-care retreat is to inspire you all to make July a month of reflecting on self-care and the many ways to nourish ourselves. We encourage everyone to participate in this event in a way that feels appropriate to them, whether through personal reflection, journal or other self-care. If you would like to share your experience with self-care, we would love to include you in the experience, whether you join us for one week or every week. You can write generally about self-care, or focus on one of the themes (movement, food, family/friends/pets, creativity and meditation and mindfulness), or write every week about each of the themes. We ask that you link back to this post so that more people can learn about this retreat, and leave a comment for the weekly theme host, too!. If you would like to be included in our roundup, please email a link to your post, along with your name and blog name, to us at selfcareretreat at gmail dot com by July 30, 2011. Feel free to use the badge in your posts. Non-bloggers who would like to contribute,please email the full text to the same address and it will be included in the roundup.

Be well and take care of yourselves.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 gfe--gluten free easily July 28, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Hi Valerie, thanks so much for this post and the very generous references to my post and Delise's guest post. Interestingly enough, I thought about briefly covering the topic of friends who take more than they give in my post, but my post was already long enough. You did a great job in tackling the subject here. You gave just enough info to make us ponder our own experiences in this area. A couple things comes to mind. All friends are not the same. There's an email that goes around about the different kinds of friends and it's so very true. What I remember most from it is that there are some friends who will be your friends forever and others who come into your life for a short time, have a huge impact, and then for whatever reason you both move on. While I have gotten much more open to all kinds of friendships as I've gotten older and been exposed to more new folks, I've also become less tolerant of friends who are not really friends or friends who will suck every bit of energy out of one. I go with the term "energy vampire" on those. It sounds cruel, but we all know those friends. I wish them well, but I've learned to let them go or limit my exposure to them. Otherwise, it really affects me adversely, bringing more of the same to me, and one can never help those who fit in that category. To them life always sucks, blah, blah, blah. It sounds cruel, but it's the only sensible way to go. Not saying the friend you described fits that category, but it is hard to understand someone who even in her own difficult situation was so unyielding and ungiving. I guess I always like to work with my friends in the best way possible. My true friends always ask my guidance on where we should eat. It's not that big of a deal to them as they can always eat at the gluten-full spots when I am not around. Anyway, thanks for this post. It said so much in so few words!



2 Cheryl Harris July 29, 2011 at 1:59 am

love your honesty with a challenging topic! great post, and kudos for you for the maturity to understand and have compassion.


3 Gena July 29, 2011 at 11:36 am

Indeed, it is precious to have friends who know how to make you comfortable and accomodate you if you're a special eater. Love this thoughtful post. And to wit, an email from me is pending on this topic!


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