Never let your internal battery run on empty…
Taking care of ourselves is the hardest task we have these days. Okay, actually it has always been the hardest task. It is hard to think we deserve to be taken care of after so much abuse and trauma has taken place in our lives. We feel guilty for spending time or money on ourselves. We question what we are deserving of. Many times it is a trigger as we hear voices and phrases from our past and we find ourselves pre-preparing explanations for taking time just for us or spending money on just us.
One would think that after so many years (the body is now 41 years old), we were able to take care of ourselves by now. We are great at taking care of others. Making sure others have food cooked, clothes cleaned, taking people places , appointments made, someone to talk to when needed, etc.; we are always ready to make sure those around us are well taken care of.
It is easier to focus on others than on ourselves. After the day is done when do we take care of ourselves? Well, if there is any time left over we can possibly spend five minutes on ourselves. We don’t need or deserve more than that. After all, we are here to serve others first, right?
Wrong. That is how we have been programmed our whole life. As a child, we were pushed to the side while other family members came first. We spent a lot of time being ignored, expected to be quiet and out of the way. When we left home and married, our first responsibility was to make sure our husband was taken care of first, after all that is what we were taught in church. When divorced, we were a single parent who needed to make sure the child was taken care of (sure our mom helped a lot, but that was a bad idea and a double edged sword, reserved for a later conversation as she is our first abuser).
After a second failed marriage, another child, a huge move in location, we are learning it is okay to take time out for us. We have a great therapist and an amazing family support here. Our life has become one where we still struggle with time management but we are getting better. We do still find we take time for everyone else first. We still find ourselves needing to justify purchases or why we need something or why we want to be alone. We guess some things never change internally.
It is okay to be selfish. In fact, it is not really being selfish. It is more about taking care of us so that we can continue to take care of those we love. But more importantly it is about learning to love ourselves more. Learning to let go of the past negative tapes running in our head. Learning we are worth time, from ourselves and others. Learning we are love-able and deserve happiness.
It’s a work in progress. Some days are better than others but we keep trucking on. I think in all of this, we learn to not give up on ourselves. Something the characters in our book are learning a well…
A. G. Ballard