Is it selfish, or is it self-care?

On the third night of our honeymoon, we discovered a piano bar at the resort. We could request songs, sip daiquiris, and just enjoy the fact that we could stay out as late as we wanted, sleep in as late as we wanted, and not have to worry about work for a while.

I was somewhere around my third daiquiri when the couple next to us requested Fix You by Coldplay…and that’s when the fun sort of crashed. I associate songs with many experiences in life, positive and negative, and Fix You is one of those songs that never fails to trigger me: And the tears come streaming down your face/When you lose something you can’t replace/When you love someone but it goes to waste/Could it be worse?

It was a song I played on repeat almost every night this past summer, because the lyrics are so spot-on, yet vague enough to fit almost any situation.

In my case, it perfectly described how I felt about losing Dad. A gorgeous song, to be sure, but I had to wonder why someone would request it at a Sandals resort. Sad songs do not belong on vacation! I felt genuinely happy on our trip – a feeling I’ve struggled very much to recover – but that song? I couldn’t listen to it. Not then.

I’m sure it’s only because of the daiquiris that I opened my big mouth and blurted, “Why that song?” The woman who made the request stared at me blankly. “You don’t like it?” she asked, dumbfounded.

“No, I love that song,” I responded. “I just don’t feel like slitting my wrists on my honeymoon.” And that was the point where Josh whisked me away and said, “You know, maybe Tipsy Beth shouldn’t be allowed out in public.”

And he had a point – not about being tipsy in public, which I never do (it was an all-inclusive resort, in my defense), but about taking my issues out on unsuspecting people who don’t need to be subjected to my inner baggage. I have been depressed, angry, and grieving deeply, all the while knowing that there comes a point when those problems can no longer be used as an excuse to turn off my mental filter. There’s an unspoken “grace period” for people going through hard times, when the bereaved are more likely to be forgiven for saying stupid things, but that grace period can’t last forever.

I’ve been around people who let their grief consume them; who act as if they are the only ones to ever experience a certain kind of tragedy. I have also been that person. I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that loss is part of the human experience, and while I’ve been extremely blessed for most of my life, I’m not immune to suffering (and yes, I am aware of how much that statement exposes my utmost privilege). I’m fortunate to have had only a couple big losses in 26 years.

As I prepare to leave my Hermit Hole and re-enter the world again, I find myself asking the following question: Is this action selfish, or is it self-care? If it’s the former, I’m grateful to have people on the inside, like my husband and a few close friends, who know me well enough to keep me straight and use tough love if necessary.

The piano guy did play that song. I ended up leaving the bar and pacing outside in circles while looking at wedding pictures on my phone to help stay present. I probably should have apologized to that couple, but they were gone by the time I came back. They will never know that my outburst wasn’t because I’m a rude person all around, but because of trouble getting on a train out of Trigger Town.


11 thoughts on “Is it selfish, or is it self-care?

  1. Pingback: Ugly actions, ugly selves? | Sarahbeth Caplin | Author & Blogger

  2. Beth,

    I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your father. I lost my parents when I was young, so even now I grieve. Not very good with being touchy feelings(or something like that) but no, you aren’t in the wrong here. I want to say more but I’m a bloke and we can’t always articulate our feelings properly…

    PS ” Caplin Stoneburner” is such a cool surname ,blessings to you and your husband and may you have lots of fun and happiness together😃

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel your pain in this. That song IS beautiful, but it is also heart-wrenching as hell. The story shows a great deal of self-awareness. Maybe you gained that as a result of this happening, and maybe that innocent couple is just collateral damage, but self-awareness is SO important. They will be alright, and you will be too.

    Just found you on Monday Blogs. You’ve got yourself a new follower. 🙂


  4. I had forgotten about this place until I read this. There is something about those triggers that makes us feel close to the person again… grief becomes a familiar and weirdly comforting burden. I understand not wanting to carry that on your honeymoon, but I hope when you got home you listened to that song by yourself and had a good cry.


  5. I completely empathize with the feelings you’re talking about — and have my own stories of spilling pain onto unsuspecting bystanders — so you have all my sympathies. I’m not sure selfishness and self-care are ever cleanly separable? Or perhaps I mean “self-ness” and self-care (“selfish” gets an unwarranted bad rap sometimes, I suspect, though it can be a necessary retreat for healing deep wounds). Best wishes to you, and thank you for sharing.


    • It’s a very difficult thing to try and separate them. I can’t deny that it felt kind of good to unleash some of that anger onto people I’ll likely never see again, the same way it felt good to give the finger to a man telling me I looked sexy on my way to work. There are times when venting in a journal or punching a pillow just doesn’t cut it. Obviously there needs to be a healthier balance…perhaps I should renew my gym membership? I hear exercise is good for stress?


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