Saturday, December 4, 2010

Self Care

The topic of caring for ourselves as women came up at our mom's group this week. I listened with one ear, recognizing how hard it is to find time to actually indulge in any form of self care in these busy days with young children. But this morning, as I stayed in bed until after 11 am, I began thinking about it a little more, and realized how far I have come already in prioritizing myself higher on the scale of our family.

As my kids get a little older, I think this is becoming easier. I'm recognizing that my attitude serves an an emotional barometer for the rest of my family, and I want to give more of myself without burning out. In order to do that, I must understand my limits. I can only do so much, and I am slowly learning to say no without guilt, and protect the energy reserves I have on any given day or evening.

Setting myself free from guilt is as liberating as it is foreign. I used to wallow in guilt like a pig in mud; rolling around and covering every inch of myself in its murky filth, and I am not doing that these days. Now I am attempting to take blame for where I fail, and letting the rest go. None of us wants to hurt anyone else, but the fact of being human and imperfect means that we will hurt others, and that's what apologies and forgiveness are for.

I am an important member of my family. I serve my family willingly, but there are times for me to step back and be served. Even typing those words feels strange, because as women we are hardwired to give to others, but the fact remains that we have limits to what we can give, and if our own gas tank isn't refueled, we will run dry and end up stranded by the side of the highway.

It has taken me a very long time to understand that I need to take care of myself. That it is not selfish to recognize what I need and find a way to get it. If I am calm and centered and relaxed, I am a better person for everyone who needs me. Self care is not a luxury or a right, but something even stronger than that. It is a necessity, and going forward, I am going to continue to prioritize it higher.

I've had a dream for years that involves people stopping their lives to pamper me and care for me. It doesn't seem to happen that way. I see now that my expectations on others have been too high and not high enough for myself. I am responsible for my own care. That's liberating in and of itself, and puts the onus on me, where it actually belongs. I'm through wasting time waiting on other people to value me higher so I feel valuable. If I value myself, it won't matter so much what other people say and do, and that lesson goes for all facets of life.

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