For so long I valued everyone else over myself
We hear the term self-care thrown around everywhere nowadays. We are seeking it, we know it’s important but still can’t always make it a priority. Worse still – we don’t understand the consequences of not embracing it.
Over my time as a mum, like most of us, I have thrown myself into this role head and heart first. Nothing was too much, late night crying with our baby drained me, but I would always be there for her. Hours or more of settling our toddler would frustrate me but I couldn’t bear to let him cry it out. With a busy schedule as a stay at home mum I always made time for them with park plays, special craft projects and just sitting being together even when I was too exhausted for any of it. I have always adored being a mum and nothing felt like too much trouble.
But now I have this unshakable feeling that it is too much trouble. I’m overwhelmed, resentful, angry and really dropping the ball in the mum department. It actually hurts my heart to think about the shift in me over the past few months and how my world has morphed into a place of stress and disconnect. How this new world we currently live within does not feel emotionally safe and nurturing for any of us.
In my defence, I know that these changes within me are not due to a personal shift in feelings and desires. I haven’t suddenly stopped wanting to be mummy and “go and find myself”. Life is happening as it does, and it’s doing so with such force and heaviness that the waves it’s making feel like they are tearing me apart. It’s finding all the weaknesses in my strength and resilience and pushing harder than I think I can sustain.
I am now facing depression again after years of finally feeling like I had reconnected and healed myself. It was never perfect but it was no longer controlling my life. Yet now I’m back in that same place wondering how this happened despite working so hard to get to a good place.
I don’t even know where to begin. I can see with that full force of life stuff going on around me why my world as a mum feels overwhelming and frustrating to say the least. It explains why I feel sad, disconnected and asking myself how I have let myself change so much. It’s all left my little ones with a mummy facing up to the hard truths in life and leaving them aside.
God that hurts … leaving them aside.
But that’s the truth. I’m doing the essentials for them, but I’m not really there and it terrifies me that right now, I don’t know how to be. If I am able to take in all that is going on in life and place in a box for later… the truth of it is, nothing in that box is the sole reason for why I feel so disconnected as a mama right now.
Life right now is the catalyst, but many years of not caring for myself is what actually got me here. I’m here in this place because I left myself behind one too many times. Because I valued everyone else over me. I prioritised my need to appear resilient and independent over my need to ask for help, create space and take care of myself. I had underestimated the consequences of not taking care of me.
We know what self-care is but do we understand the consequences of not embracing it? I only see it now because I feel it deeply. I’m in the thick of big heavy lifetime ordeals and no personal security blanket to get me through.
Now I can see the consequence so much greater than I ever thought.
It’s bigger than always feeling tired, having an unshaven body, sore muscles, piling up home duties, a growing list of “I wish I had time” activities, broken down friendships and a fragile mind. The consequence is depletion. Not only of your physical being but of your spirit.
I cannot come from a place of love when my base line is depletion. I cannot be there wholly for my kids when I am depleted. I cannot lovingly connect with my partner when I am depleted. I cannot even focus on tasks at hand, be productive, eat well, exercise and feel joy in my life when I am coming from this place of depletion every day.
I can’t. Nor can you. Nobody can.
My well is now dry and I see the value of water.
Mothers make every excuse as to why we can’t take care of ourselves and use our love for our children as justification. We feel guilty, selfish, fearful of judgement from ourselves and others and are time poor. But we can’t do that forever, don’t make excuses for why self-care is not number one for you. Everything else needs to sit a close second behind you taking care of yourself. It’s not selfish, you don’t need to feel guilty that for once it’s your turn. It’s not like that at all, self-care is a group benefit. Your entire family unit will be better for you taking care of you, in whatever way that makes you feel whole again.
Value yourself like the integrity of your entire family depends on it. It may feel like we just make lots of small decisions that don’t prioritise ourselves, they seem small and insignificant but over time they compound. The stress, overwhelm, fatigue, resentment, frustration, the depressive or anxious feelings… they won’t disappear just because we ignore them. Value your self-care now, not when you are so far gone and life feels like it’s falling in on you. Understand now not so much how important self-care is – but how destructive the consequence of its ignorance is.
I have this quote from Buddha above my desk to remind me every single day “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
Don’t wait for the right time, love yourself today. Don’t wait for someone to save you and give you permission, love yourself today. Don’t listen to your excuses, love yourself today. Love yourself enough to make you number one. You deserve it.
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