Self-Regard for the Nurturer
This morning is very cold, almost zero degrees celsius, which is not cold to those of you in the north but has that fierce bright chill of a sea-borne cold, which somehow makes it feel icier. I have many things I should be doing, but can't manage to extricate myself from my soft cosy blanket.
Last week, after a summer of gentleness, I found myself returning to my winter mood, just in time for the freezing southerly winds. This is the mood of brown wool, brown bread, old smoky tales from eastern mountains, incence. I thought it would last as it usually does for several months (whatever time of year it comes), but after only a few days I am veering back towards gentleness. It frustrates me. I can not write about Russian witches, as I am trying to do, when my heart inclines towards English rose gardens. (And although I have just had an image of Baba Yaga standing with a suitcase in Heathrow Airport, that is not a book I'm brave enough to write! Although now my imagination has gone off dancing without me. Eek! Someone stop it before it breaks something!)
I took a personal brand test with Cerrie Mooney. I wasn't surprised that my results were "nurturer". That's accurate, and I recommend the test. It's lovely and insightful, and fun to take. But the idea I am a nurturer is also unhelpful, because that self-brand doesn't tell me anything about myself, only how I am in relationship to other people. It tells me I'll make tea for another before myself, but not what kind of tea I like to drink. It tells me that I'm inclined to write books I think other people will enjoy, but not how to come up with tales to interest myself - and how to have the courage to write them longer than a short story or a blog post.
(It's like saying Baba Yaga is a witch - it doesn't tell you how she finds inner peace, what home decor she prefers, or what kind of luggage she would choose for an international journey. Something vintage, with leather straps? Or a pink Hello Kitty suitcase?)
But then, it's not surprising we would think "the nurturer" is enough to say about someone, and not look deeper. Its very name is others-focussed.
I wrote recently about how motherhood fulfills me, and its true, because I am a nurturer. But it's also true that nurturers, empaths, and people who were taught all their lives to put others first, need to know as well how to have empathy for themselves. It's a joy to help others, and to give whatever you can for them, but there's a steady happiness too in being there for yourself, especially as no one ever thinks to nurture the nurturers. It doesn't mean you have to be self-centred or stop taking care of other people. It just means you have to be you. Sometimes that is harder than it sounds.