Let’s get real. Yesterday was not a good day for me. Each one of my family members was grumpy and irritable. None of us were getting our needs met. Not for lack of trying. Things just were not working out. And at the end of the day, my husband and I both went to sleep feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. A rough day… An exhausting week… A challenging year… can do that to a person. Make you feel like everything is falling apart, with no end in sight. Trapped on this crazy ride, out of control, constant ups and downs, and no brakes.
So this morning, I just knew… Taking care of everyone else first while figuring out how to meet my own needs, was not going to cut it. I’ve been down that path before. Many, many times. A lot of days it’s necessary, and can be just fine. But it doesn’t always end well. Because one thing I have learned, is that when needs go unmet, they only get louder. A slight whisper in the body, calling for attention, can grow like wildfire into full-blown screams, where lashing out at oneself or others becomes a last-ditch effort in the cry for help.
Thankfully that escalation tends not to happen in an instant. And there are plenty more signs along the way, where our brains try to tell us (or those around us), “Hey! Something’s going on here. Better take a look.” Yesterday, my needs had been neglected for far too long, as every attempt to meet them either barely made a dent, or only made things worse. I was angry. I was impatient. I was tired. And I needed a break. So I gave myself just that.
Today, I lived in bed. And I did exactly what I felt like doing. A little social media. Some business research. Thinking. Dreaming. Writing. And of course, binge-watching Suits. Because I needed rest. I needed security. And I needed to pour into myself more than I poured out. Now typically, spending my time like this would only cause me to feel ashamed. Caught between what I wanted to do and what I “should” do. Not being “productive” but also not able to truly recharge because of that chronic guilt. The voices in my head calling me lazy. Selfish. A bad mom. Not good enough. Not worth it.
But I am learning to love myself. To see my worth, pay attention to my needs, and take care of me. So every time those voices popped into my mind, I reminded myself, “I’m ok, as I am, doing what I’m doing. No one else needs me right now. This is what I need. And that is ok.” I resisted the “shoulds” and “have to’s.” Letting those feeling be what they were, but not letting them drive me all the same. Today I let myself just be. And that was everything I needed. I feel refreshed. I feel free. And I feel ready for a new day to come.
And that made me think. We really can be so hard on ourselves. We listen to voices from the past. Telling us that we are not important. That our needs do not matter. That if we don’t do this or take care of that, then we’re failing. We feel so much shame. Afraid of what it might say about us to accept help, trust someone else with responsibilities, and give ourselves what we so desperately need. You know the saying, you can’t pour from an empty cup. But how often do we accept our own empty cup as a valid need?
Instinctively, I don’t think I would put my own oxygen mask on first, like the flight attendants tell us to. My family is my life. My children are my whole world. Of course I think of them before myself! Isn’t that what being a mom is all about? But I was posed some new questions recently that caused me to think like I hadn’t before. If you put a mask on your kid first, then what happens to you? And if you have more than one kid, what happens when you pass out before getting to them all? How do you choose which one to put on last? Obviously, every day is not an emergency situation on an airplane. But this illustration can bring to light how little we think of ourselves. And really how much we matter to those around us.
I want you to hear this explicitly. You are important. Your needs, your feelings, your preferences, your desires, and your dreams are important. No one else has to become insignificant for that to be true. And you do not have to become insignificant for it to be true for anyone else. Take care of you. Because you deserve it. And your loved ones deserve a well taken care of you. When you put your heart and soul into others, it can be easy to forget yourself. But I have not forgotten you. I see you. And today I want you to see yourself too. Give yourself permission to love and care for you, whatever that looks like. You are worth it.