Solitary introspection and time for “self care” is pretty popular these days, at least in theory. We seem to want it, but few people get enough of it or, in fact, know exactly how to really take an honest look inward or do what’s necessary to really take care of themselves. It’s really too easy to let the guilt of unfinished tasks, the gravity of the struggles at hand, the need to be moving always forward push us to write off such things as self-indulgent and unnecessary.
What they are, often, is uncomfortable. Stopping to retreat and sit with our own realities in quiet solitude is something most of us are conditioned to avoid and dislike. In fact, this avoidance of self-analysis plays a significant role in Betty Friedan’s feminist manifesto The Feminine Mystique. The suburban housewives described and quoted purposefully filled their days with unnecessary busywork, cleaning and organizing and puttering, to avoid facing time alone with bleak reality. Knowing there was no socially acceptable answer to the problem they knew existed, it was far easier to fill the time with a mind-numbing parade of useless but socially acceptable housework tasks than it would have been to face the truth and the consequences of the truth.
And yet, despite counting ourselves as having moved past that “wave” of feminist thought, do women not still find themselves restricted to “appropriate” ways of behaving and thinking and living to the point where real introspection and analysis is too uncomfortable to endure?