Taking care of yourself is not a luxury, it's a priority.
For most of my life, I have taken care of other people. Either purposely or unconsciously, I have put other's feelings, well being and needs before my own. So much so it had become a habit to do so. I had a desperation to have ALL people feel better and to take from me what it is I had to offer at any given moment.
As a young child, I strived to always do well, behave myself, please my family, please my teachers, please my friends. This carried over into my teen years, but by then, I was suffering abuse and neglect. I was the oldest sibling of two younger brothers, my baby brother being 10 years younger than I am. Very early on, I was forced to grow up pretty quickly. I had to behave like and be as responsible as an adult, even though I was still a child.
I was never taught how to "adult", really. I was just kind of thrown in there in very damaging ways. I was never taught how to manage my own feelings, my own emotions, my own body, my own sense of self. I was never taught how to say "No".
I was told to do what I was told, when I was told to do it. And I was told "Don't do this.... Don't do that...." but I was never told why or how not to do..whatever it was. I was influenced by peers to make some really bad choices, because I didn't know how to say NO. And, I didn't want anyone upset with me. I wasn't a mean person, I wasn't a "difficult" child, I didn't "act out". But, I did make some very unhealthy choices.
I was just lost. I didn't know how to be responsible for myself in the ways that would keep me healthy. It wasn't until I was in my 30's that I got a little "selfish". Even then, it wasn't handled was the correct way. My marriage to my first husband, the father of my children, was so broken. I had tried the best ways I knew how to get it together, but I just couldn't do it. I was mentally drained, emotionally spent on trying everything I could think of to please my husband AND take care of my children. In trying so hard (without truly knowing how) to make my husband happy, my children were starting to suffer. I was mentally exhausted and had no idea how to handle this, keeping them ALL (but me) happy. I just knew I was shutting down.
So, in that selfish act, I told my husband I wanted a divorce. I didn't think I could keep trying to do both and I felt like I was doing it all alone. My children needed me to be
able to function as a mother, so I gave up trying to figure out how to make my husband happy. I certainly wasn't happy and I had no idea how to seek help, who to talk
to, where to turn. As much as a couple of my family members thought they were "being there for me", they couldn't possibly help me. I only felt judged, whether that's
what it was or not, that's what I felt.
I was still lost. I still had no idea how to be responsible for or nurture and care for me.
Very recently, this has come around again. I was starting to shut down because I was so emotionally and physically tired. Again, trying to figure out how I am going to
do all things that need done for others, but not taking any time to figure out how to care for me.
Taking care of yourself is not selfish in the ways the dictionary and people in general define the word.
'self·ish - adjective - (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.'
SELF CARE IS NOT A LUXURY - IT'S A PRIORITY
If you can't love and take care of yourself, you can't love and care for anyone else in the best way. You can't give away something that you don't have. Mentally, you can't be a source of guidance or nurturing if you are not guiding and nurturing yourself first. Physically, you can't help anyone or do anything at all if you shut down or get sick because of stress, worry, anger and exhaustion. Or, you might think you are still helping by making sure some needs are met with your children, your spouse or for your boss, but you are probably doing so with a horrible, tired attitude. I can tell you from experience that when you are "caring" for other people with a bad attitude, they would rather you didn't care for them at all. Because, really, that's what they are perceiving.
Get Selfish. It's more than ok to do so. It's necessary to do so.
Find support and resources you can trust for inspiration and breaks. Don't be afraid to ask for help with the kids, the house, etc. If you need a break, take it and don't feel guilty for doing so.
Set limits and boundaries on your space and time. Do not allow others to take so much from you that you have nothing left to give yourself.
Get enough rest. Stop beating yourself up for leaving a sinkful of dishes overnight or not folding that pile of laundry. It will wait on you, trust me, I know.
Make plans AND stick with them to do things you enjoy...on your own. You are not attached at the hip to your children, your spouse, your home or your job. Get out there and enjoy the things that make you happy and give you peace. And yes, be selfish about it. Make that time about YOU. Just you.