One of the most important aspects of one’s health is self-care. More often than not, we neglect ourselves in favour of taking care of others. There are exceptions to this rule, but it typically tends to be the norm.
I haven’t told a good story in quite a while, so here we go…
Almost twenty years ago when I was young and dumb (as opposed to old and dumb as I am now), I was involved with a young woman from back home. We started dating and eventually moved in together. As with most relationships, things were decent in the beginning. But once we moved in together, we started having a number of issues. These included the normal issues that any relationship faces; financial burdens, housing issues and how many cats she had…
Because I had a propensity to help others before taking care of myself, I endured for three years. During those three years, we faced a number of problems that involved going broke, spending days without groceries and risking being put out on the street for several months. I worked hard and tried to keep us afloat, without the benefit of my partner helping out. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to, but on some level she simply couldn’t.
Faced with a number of her emotional and mental health issues, I couldn’t help her and eventually decided to close up shop and move us back to our home town to be close to family. During this transition, we mutually decided that we weren’t suited for one another as far as being in a relationship.
Once we were no longer tethered to each other, I provided her with what I assumed at the time was some sage advice on what her next steps in life could be. And then she made a comment that has resonated with me ever since: “See, why couldn’t you provide that kind of advice and support when we were a couple?”
It dawned on me at that point that I was so busy trying to keep all the pieces of the puzzle together that I forgot who I was as a person. I was unable to guide anyone or provide advice or be helpful, because I was too busy suffering myself.
This is comparable to when you’re taking a flight and the attendants give you that safety briefing before lift off. You know, the one where they instruct you to secure your own oxygen mask before trying to secure or help someone else? Much like that scenario, I was too busy trying to secure someone else’s oxygen mask to notice that I was suffocating in the process.
we all need to protect ourselves. There’s nothing selfish about it and in fact, it’s necessary in order to help raise your family. You can’t help and support others unless you take care of yourself first. Your wants and needs are important. Critical, even. Being happy goes a long way in ensuring that you can spread that happiness to others. If you spend too much time securing someone else’s mask, you become bitter and resentful, and it becomes difficult to have the clarity necessary to do right. Some Sunday food for thought… ☯