Being asked for an emergency contact always annoys me, it is an interesting reaction. Who do I want someone to call on my behalf if, or when I am in an emergency? I don’t want my friends alarmed on my behalf, and what could they do that I couldn’t? Who might I trust to make decisions for me or act on my behalf? Are there some extreme circumstance where I might not be able to act in my own best interest?

Someone to watch over meWell, there was the time I feel off my bicycle and hit my head and was unconscious, someone called an ambulance. I spent a night in hospital and someone called my Mum and she drove me home the next day, my broken collar-bone slowly mended. Through it all I resisted help and offers of caring. “Thanks but I am managing, I am coping. Yes, if I think of anything you can do I will call….”. I didn’t call, didn’t ask. I am a little strong and pathetic that way. Do it yourself, DIY, is a default mode. DIY or don’t do it. It is not easy for me to have things done for me.

The parts of me that are strong and coping don’t like the idea of being nursed by someone else, or having someone else in control of decisions about me.

Now I have a stress fracture in my foot and when walking got more and more painful and it didn’t right itself quickly, I went to see an Osteopath . I went for that sort of treatment because the clinic is at the end of my street and I could hobble there. My decision was mostly for location, I could get there by myself with a hopping sort of limp.

There was a standard client information sheet to fill out in the waiting room and, of course, it asked for the ubiquitous emergency contact. Here I was, under my own steam, capably and sensibly seeking treatment for a sore foot,the fracture was as yet undiagnosed, and the first question was for an emergency contact – someone to potentially make decisions for me. Very annoying.

If I can’t abide someone looking after me, and even so self care takes some navigating for someone who would rather be a helper than a helpee. Ironically I feel most vulnerable around being vulnerable. I don’t feel safe in the knowing or thinking that someone will watch over me. It is not the ‘someone’ that troubles me but an idea that I can not watch over myself. I should put together my own safety plan.

Vulnerabilities are a good place to start when thinking of a self care. The first step in a safety plan. What or who threatens my safety or well being? When is it that I feel most vulnerable? What circumstances or situations should I try and avoid? What triggers am I already familiar with? What am I afraid might happen to me? Then comes the big question “what are the people closest to me afraid might happen to me?” It’s a big question because it will start conversations I have never had, not with anyone, not ever. Not even emergency contact people – what are you afraid might happen to me?

I wonder if the answers will provide new information and what I will do with that information. Will the answer change how I look after myself? It is an edgy question to ask. Let me get back to you with how it goes.