We hear the term thrown around everywhere nowadays, self care. We are seeking it, wanting more of it or even a small part of it to come into our lives. The biggest struggle is knowing the importance but not being able to 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. 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 can’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. Like I said, I love being a mum and nothing was 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 would never be a safe and comforting place for our babies to call home.
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 apart my strength. I am now facing depression again after years of finally feeling like I had reconnected. 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 before. On top of this we had the dreadful news that my mum has terminal cancer and we can’t save her. Those words more painful every time I say it. How do you even process that? Accept that? I can’t. I don’t even know where to begin. So 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 and 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.
If I am able to take in all that is going on and place in a box for later… the truth of it is, nothing in that box made me disconnect, none of it was the catalyst for me suddenly feeling like I can’t do this mum thing anymore.
The catalyst was not caring for myself. The start of the transitioning monster was 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 and create space. I had underestimated the consequences of not taking care of me. And when our well is dry is when we truly appreciate the value of water.
These earthy events certainly have shaped my psyche and how I am currently behaving and felling. Experiences like that are not here for us to float through, the only way past it is through the thick, heavy middle of it. But when I started that process already behind, already drained, defeated and resentful I didn’t give my resilience much, if any chance to stand tall. I was well and truly behind the starting line but still expected to come out okay.
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.
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 you over them. It’s not like that at all – self care if a group benefit. Your entire family unit will be better for you taking of you, in whatever way that makes you feel whole again. Please don’t be like me and keep soldiering on, assuring yourself you can do it. You can for some while until something in life will shift, life will happen to you and around you and will leave you feeling crumbled. Don’t wait too long. Understand now not so much how important self care is – but how destructive the consequence of its ignorance is.