I learned about self care when I got clean six years ago; before that it was a foreign concept. I thought self care was for the rich and famous and consisted of, only, massages and expensive spa trips. Self care is exactly how it sounds: taking care of yourself. However, contrary to my 19 year old self’s belief, self care can mean a wide range of different things. As a bisexual woman, self care has evolved for me since I came out. Truth be told, I did not care or take after my queer self before or much after I came out. I did not realize the importance for nourishing this part of my identity almost as a different person.
Before I talk about bi self care in any kind of list or otherwise, allow me to introduce myself: past and present. Before there was any kind of self hate, denial or shame there was just a girl. I was six years old the first time I can remember being attracted to girls. The time was short, but I blissfully reminisce on such a beautiful segment of my life where I was unburdened by the religious and political implications of my sexual orientation. Hell, I did even know what ‘sexual orientation’ was. I just new that the girl in my class with the long hair and blue-and-white-striped dress caught my eye, and, maybe one day, I would have a wife.. or husband.. whichever one! Prince or Princess Charming was fine by me. I was uninhibited; even in my childhood dysfunction around me there was none inside me.
And then, as too many of us are aware, reality came crashing in. I remember trying to be overly “heterosexual,” boy crazy, obsessing etc. I had a new crush all the time, and, before I knew it, trying to cover up who I really was just became second nature. Growing up in the Catholic Church and having family members on my one side of the family who constantly talked about “The Gay Agenda” and how same-sex / LGBT people were an abomination at the dinner and holiday tables reinforced why I continued to crawl into myself. The word ‘bisexual’ had not and did not cross my mind since.. well.. no one had mentioned it! You were either heterosexual or homosexual. I felt like a freak, and I used to ask myself what was wrong with me. I used to pray to God to change me, but the resounding answer I saw all around me confused me: there is nothing wrong with you.
The general theme of my life was that I had to be as straight as possible which proved difficult considering *drum roll* I wasn’t straight. I always became ultra offended when anyone insinuated I was not “straight as the straightest line” as I used to say as a teenager and would have serious anxiety over my every movement. I often found myself obsessing over certain moments, fearful that I stared too long or said the wrong thing.. that someone, anyone might know. I am a recovering addict, a domestic violence & multiple-time sexual assault survivor, and this is important to note since a) much of my drinking and drug use centered around my unimaginable self-hatred which b) had a lot to do with this gnawing feeling that I was a “freak” and couldn’t hide forever because c) I’ve always known I was a queer woman; I loved it for a moment and then mastered hating it for years which d) left a trail of faceless women and a couple broken hearts in my wake.. one of them being my own.
I think it’s important to note that, no matter how much it may seem like it, self medicating and using substances is in no way, shape or form self-care. In fact, it is the complete opposite. For me, it was a form of self harm. Self-Care when I was in the closet (and using) was non-existent. If you are in the closet right now, I’d suggest connecting with bi folk on twitter and other online queer spaces. It gives you a place to stretch, relax and explore who you are. Watching and interacting with other bi women has immensely shaped my experience and helped me become ready to express myself in everyday life instead of just on the Internet. Whether closeted or otherwise, I will always suggest counseling as it has been integral on my journey.
I had 4 years clean when I came out, and part of implementing self care came with destroying the pattern of behavior I had of molding myself to be heteronormative. There’s a reason I shaved my head again. For me, my hair is an outward representation of my queer identity. I went back into therapy and shared honestly about my experiences now incorporating all the happenings I had kept in the shadows. It was so freeing! If you aren’t out, having at least one person, maybe a professional, to vent to can make all the difference.
Outside counseling and the clinical arena, I started learning to do what felt good. For me, when I had the mulah, it meant stay-cations at the Hilton, bath bombs, and a new pack of fuzzy socks. When money isn’t flowing, it means taking a moment to breathe, YouTube meditations, naps, making sure I’m drinking enough water, and setting healthy boundaries with my loved ones. Netflix binge and bowl of Mac and cheese? Yes, that is one of my versions of self-care. I remember to nurture the person that I neglected for so long. Sometimes, I take a moment to tell myself how strong I am or vent with my Twitter fingers!
I wanted to make this article a list of tools, but what I realized is that just like my queer is different so is all of yours! Self care for me was remembering what I love and giving it to myself. I hope that sharing my experience has helped all of you. If you’re having trouble finding out what this means to you: make a list or ask other bi folk what they do and borrow their techniques until you find your own.
Love to all my Bi Family,
The Bi Beauty 🌹