Self-Care is Freedom, is Democracy, is Because We Are Accountable

Self-Care Tip #159 – Be accountable for and to yourself.

It was about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which in my part of the world is considered hot.  But in Washington D.C., I considered that temperature general anesthesia.  I was breathing it in and trying hard to remain alert.  Just when I thought I could hold out no longer, I saw him.  Big and expressive, the long form of Abraham Lincoln was there, surrounded by loud irreverent people.  My brother and I were wiping sweat out of our eyes trying to keep track of our kids.  We wanted to read the Gettysburg Address for our kids, and found ourselves screaming.  The kids could barely hear the words above the disinterested rabble around us.  Despite all this, I was choking; a weepy, sweaty, nearly anesthetized but free American.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

Just down the corner from Lincoln is a president’s list of sites to see, informers and reminders of who we are and where we came from.  However, none of them were “my Lincoln” experience.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion…

A couple of days ago, writing the post about how stress intersects with medicine, I remembered “my Lincoln.”  It may seem like a stretch at first but take a minute.  Self-care is a way of saying, “I am free.”   In places where life is cheap, almost without value, self-care is not much of an option.  It is because of freedom that we can extricate the meddling fingers, the invasions, and be the keeper of our own private spaces however we choose to.  It is because of freedom that we can tell people that although my brain is ill and although I take medication, I am equal. Saying that is self-care.  Saying that is possible if we take that freedom to keep our own accountability for our own selves.  Accountability is not the same as blame.  Having accountability for our freedom is not the same as being at fault for what came before freedom, nor our current conditions.

—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

If you’re not accountable to your inner self, if you’re only accountable to your actions, or you’re only accountable to what others determine and define about you, than you are not free.  You are blamed.

Accountability is such a tender privilege.  We might lose it if we forget who we are, where we came from and our rights to freedom.  Democracy is self-care.

Question:  How do you see the relationship between self-care and your freedoms?  Please tell me your story.

14 thoughts on “Self-Care is Freedom, is Democracy, is Because We Are Accountable

  1. Wow!!!!!! This post is brilliant….I never would have thought of overlaying the Lincoln symbolism and Gettysburg Address text with self-care…the civil war inside of us. What a brilliant structure…Totally a unique and smart idea.


  2. Being free of the chains of addiction is a far more substantial freedom than say from political, economic, or religious persecution or subjugation. But the post immediately brought me back to the 6th grade. We had to memorize the Gettysburg Address, 23rd Psalm, Trees(poem), Preamble to Constitution, God Bless America, and Latin and Greek roots. I can’t remember what else we had to remember but I remember it was a lot more.


  3. I was at the Lincoln Memorial watching as Ray Charles sang “America The Beautiful” sitting half way up the steps of the memorial. It was later broadcast on TV during the Bicentennial celebrations. It was one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had. Then, as a teacher of Creative Writing and Public Speaking I heard many middle school kids slog through the Gettysburg Address (for the most part, with no expression at all, to my dismay) because it’s one of the shortest speeches ever written. It diminished the feeling a bit but never the meaning and I never ceased to be moved by the words. However, like Sarah, I never would have put those things together and made them a part of my healing process. Sarah’s right…it was a brilliant idea!

    Kevin, last night, wrote about how this blog has changed his attitude about his self-care. It’s caused me to change mine, too, mostly because I feel safe sharing here. But to associate self-care with freedom actually made me feel free today…and equal…something that I’ve been struggling with for years. I’ve always, as an artist, loved the sculpture of Lincoln at his Memorial. I’ve always loved the Memorial as an American. I’ve even loved it because it was one of the first places my husband of 45 years took me when we were dating. Now, though, I will love it in an even more personal way because it represents who I can be…who I really am, if I allow myself that right. Thank you so much.


    • Yay nancy! so glad u felt “free” w this! i couldn’t have said what i hoped for better than you just did. “But to associate self-care with freedom actually made me feel free today…” your personal story is always strongest. thank u so much.


  4. worthy of self-care=other people have worth=people are worth having freedom. Freedom is heathy therefore freedom is self-care. Ah higher math.


  5. “If you’re not accountable to your inner self, if you’re only accountable to your actions, or you’re only accountable to what others determine and define about you, than you are not free. You are blamed.

    Accountability is such a tender privilege. We might lose it if we forget who we are, where we came from and our rights to freedom. Democracy is self-care” EXCELLENT! This is a very wise post. I am so glad you commented on my blog which led me back here. Thank you.


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