What? I am supposed to self-care? Don’t I have enough to do caring for everyone else?
Judy, my sister, found this link and shared it on her project/blog. Last round of 25 things my sister wrote after I did. This time I think I will reverse it and post the link to her blog. Please, don’t feel we are copying each other. We share many similarities but we are both quite unique. We were raised in a home where we were treated interchangeably. If I had a passion for ballet then my sister must too. My sister passion for horses was boundless, mine was more lukewarm. However, they gave my sister tickets to the ballet and me horses. We both ended up with the same counselor. He fretted that we would compare notes and notice he did NOT give us the same advice. He was right we compared notes, but we were thrilled that he treated us differently. We loved that he noticed we were different. He treated us differently. He gave us different advice. We process our trauma differently. So I want to pass on those differences to our readers. She wrote her perspective, then I will share mine. I’ll add the link to her blog so you can see both points of view. We were raised in the same house but I was the designated care giver and she was the scapegoat. Our lives were totally different. We walk every Saturday for Sister Time. We feel blessed to be in each other’s lives.
To feel worthy of the self care. It often feels and sounds selfish to me. So many others are in need besides me that seem more deserving. Selfishness is one of my biggest pet peeves, after being rejected, abandoned and abused by selfish people. I am trying to get better.
I have a few spare moments, how can I help? I was raised and conditioned to see the needs of others and meet those needs. Noble? Perhaps. Not always. My earliest memories are instructions of caring for mother. True, she was sick from being pregnant with my sister. But after my sister was born the instructions were to care for her too. If I did something for myself, I was berated for my selfishness. I was instructed to only serve others, always. If I napped, I was woken. If I wanted to do something other than what my parents wanted, I was corrected. Yet, I was also neglected. I was ignored. A few of my memories are vivid when I asked for basic needs and was told no. Our family breakfast was one pot of hot cereal shared. I remember asking my mother for more, because I was still hungry. I was told that my brother needed it more. I went hungry. If I wasn’t worthy to be fed, why should I get anything else I needed? If I complained about the food I ate, I was told of starving children in China or Africa that would be thankful to eat what I was refusing to eat. If I didn’t help enough, again I would be sent on a guilt trip that I caused my mother’s illness or anger or anything else. I didn’t have a clue that self-care is not selfish.
I worked myself ragged. I didn’t want to be selfish. I dropped deeper and deeper into a nightmare world that I was neither dead nor really alive. I spent 3 years being up for only 20 minutes a day. Passing out was a daily ritual. I struggled to care for our family. I tried to hide how inadequate I was. The terrible secret that I was failing miserably, if I could only do more. In a deep hole of helplessness I prayed for help. None came. I begged for help. None came. I sunk lower and lower. I begged again, I finally got an answer. “You will live a long time.” I was appalled, I can’t keep living like this. Then the challenge came, “What are you going to do about it?” That was not the answer I expected. This was the beginning of a seven year odyssey out of severe depression. The beginning of a journey that I crawled out of the hideous hole. On my way I started reading more and praying more and I learned the fact that if I don’t care for myself, I can’t care for anyone else. It was true. I couldn’t care for anyone else or myself, not my children, my husband, a neighbor, no one. I learned brutally that self-care is the only way to serve others.
Counseling taught me another important principal, I am worth caring for. Doesn’t matter how I was treated in my past. The only thing that counted was I deserved to be cared for and I knew me best. I am still terrible at caring for myself but I am learning. I am learning what I can eat and what I can’t. I discovered this year that part of my choking problem is I am allergic to something I am eating. Allergies showed nothing definitive, so I am doing an elimination diet starting with no soy. I am working at exercising. Karate. Finished my degree. With each thing I do to care for myself I am getting a little bit better at caring for others. I am learning that self care is not selfish but the way to service. When I am strong, I can serve others. When I pass out, I am useless to everyone. I deserve care and I am slowly learning to parent myself. Setting healthy limits and meeting my needs. It is a journey and I am worth it.