Having a body is much like owning a home. Some of the parallels between these two concepts are simple: Homes, like bodies, require maintenance and touching-up on a regular basis – new paint, taking out the trash, sweeping the kitchen floor can be compared to good personal hygiene, haircuts, or checkups with the doctor. But the analogy runs deeper than that, and can perhaps lead to a better understanding of why self care, both physical and mental, is important.
Depending on your beliefs on the afterlife, your body may be your first and last home, the house you were born in and the one you’ll grow old in. Or it might be just one in many, a short stop in a series of moves. However, no matter your religion, there are some things about owning a body that don’t change. You still have to take care of it, and, since you’ll be living in it for a while, you should love it if you possibly can.
There are things you can change about a home that might make it feel nicer, more like it’s yours. A fresh paint job in the kitchen or some new appliances bring some of your own style into a house which might otherwise feel generic to you. Likewise, haircuts, hair dye, or even a tattoo, piercing, or other mod can help you bring your inner self to the surface. But like remodeling your house, any such decision needs to be undertaken with a level of care and respect comparable to the severity of the change. Trimming your hair a few inches doesn’t need a whole lot of thought, just as you might impulsively buy new curtains for the living room. But if you’re going to remodel your entire house, some level of commitment needs to be present, in the same manner as running out to get a tattoo that might be visible to employers requires some thought and commitment.
In your own house, you need to be comfortable and healthy, and part of that concerns what you bring into it. Part of that is drugs – you wouldn’t paint your kitchen with lead, and in much the same manner something you put in your body shouldn’t pose a serious threat to your health. Another aspect of this is relationships. You wouldn’t let someone into your home who you didn’t trust to treat you respectfully. This doesn’t just mean sex. Cheesy as it might sound, your friends, partners, and anyone else who you are in a close relationship with will on some level be let into your heart, and that’s just as important if not more so to keep for people you can trust.
Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to keep untrustworthy people out of their home. Statistically, many, many people are violated physically or sexually, and many more allow people into their lives who betray, downtalk, or otherwise emotionally hurt them. When this happens, it can be absolutely devastating. But recovery is possible. You may never be the same again, this event may have changed your life, like a burglar can steal something priceless or sentimentally valuable to you. But eventually, healing can occur. Many people have done it before, and so can you. It’s common to feel some aversion towards yourself or your body at such a time, but self harm isn’t a healthy option at this point – nor it it at any time. If someone broke into your house, would you tear down a wall or break a window? Chances are, whoever hurt you has done so enough already, and now is the time to be kinder than ever to yourself.
As a homeowner, a level of commitment is needed to the home – you made an investment, now it needs to be protected. I mentioned above that harming yourself after a traumatic event isn’t a good idea, but honestly at the best of times it’s still an unhealthy thing to do. I compared it to tearing down a wall, and sometimes you might do that in a house, as you might have a surgery. But before you start taking the wall down, there are things to consider. It’ll make a mess, and might end up just making things worse. Besides, you don’t know if it’s a load-bearing wall, so knocking it down might bring down the entire house. Self injury is similar. It might make you feel better over the short term, but over time it can hurt even more and make you feel worse, and the potential for permanent damage is very high.
Lastly, but probably most importantly, loving your home is important. You’re going living in it for a while, and although there may be things you dislike about it, like the shape of the kitchen or a storage room that really doesn’t have enough space, those things don’t make up the whole of the house, and they certainly don’t define you, the inhabitant. You might think that your house is horrible or ugly, but there will absolutely always be something good about it. If nothing else, appreciate its basic functions. Your home shelters you from the elements, gives you a place to put your possessions, a place to sleep. Likewise, your body’s senses allow you to experience the world, and depending on the body you inhabit, might allow you to move and travel through the world. No matter how little you might think of your body, it does more for you than you might be considering.