“She tried so hard to make everyone happy, but she realised she was forgetting some, herself”.unkown
A call to all Caregivers and Healers everywhere, please believe me when I say, “We Matter Now”. How often have you done it? How often have you pushed your own dreams and desires into some future unknown time in order to take care of others? Aside from your own instilled drive to put others ahead of yourself, how often have you been met with resistance from others when you attempt to do any small thing for yourself? When was the last time you filled your own cup, or put the air mask on your own face first?
I must wonder if it is a part of what makes us, Us? Or have we been conditioned to this behavior? Or could it possibly be both? Are we innately prone to have mushy personal boundaries because we so often feel the needs of others so much more acutely than our own? Or has our social conditioning capitalized on our natural strengths and in so doing cemented in total disregard for autonomy and self-worth? Maybe the more important question is how do we come back from this? How do we build our boundaries back up, how do we persevere with them when we are faced with such resistance by the people in our lives that matter the most to us? How do we let go of the need to put others first and understand that if we do not take care of ourselves, we cannot serve others in their needs? How do we redefine our years of servitude and learn how to move into loving service?
So many tasks to put on the shoulders of those who are likely so exhausted and run down by their constant giving, that it must look like a mountain you just cannot climb at this time, maybe when the kids are older, maybe when the sick are better, maybe when the dying have passed….and yet can you wait that long? Can you truly continue as things have been for some unknown future date when finally, finally you can lay down your constant tasks and take care of your own needs? Maybe a better question is do you have to? Will the world suddenly stop if you put your foot solidly down and say no, I am taking care of me first?
Can I perhaps suggest that we do a disservice to ourselves and others when we inflate our own role in the universe when we undermine other abilities and even need to take care of themselves. Are we blocking others from learning the lessons they need to by perpetually stepping in and taking away their dis-ease and pain? As Healers and Caregivers, have we not grown from the trauma and pain we have born, are we perhaps in our misguided attempts to mitigate all damages for others, holding them back on their journey to self-realization and reliance? Indeed, are we not holding ourselves back, keeping to cycles of martyrdom and servitude when we could be elevating our vibration into the realm of Loving Service and Guidance.
So many questions and ponderings and only the vaguest idea of how to bring about change. The truth is that small changes can and do change the world. Ever watched Simon Sinek’s speak about “Do You Love Your Wife?” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQ8ZznC9YLw) Incredible things can and do come out of small acts that are hard to measure but have a huge impact. I think that this is not something we can fix overnight, but with small constant changes that we can all make to our perception and behaviors, we can learn to love ourselves first.
If small changes can be the drops in our buckets to slowly but resolutely refill our depleted resources here are a few I would like to suggest as they are the ones that resonate most with me. Please keep in mind that just as no one medicine can heal all afflicted, no one plan will suit all in their struggle to self-care and fulfillment.
I think that first and foremost for me is learning how to accept help from others, and more importantly, realize when we need assistance and actively ask for help. My personal epiphany, on how bad I was at asking for assistance, came shortly after the stillbirth of my 2nd Daughter. I had suffered some blood clotting after and the pain was horrific, essentially a 2nd labor and again no gold medal at the finish line. I spent a good 24 hours over a New Year’s Eve suffering through some pretty decent size contractions. I was emotionally shattered and busy trying to make everything alright for my family and loved ones.
We went out to a restaurant for dinner, trying to keep everything “normal” when it felt like nothing could ever be normal again. After dinner, we went home, and I continued to suffer until finally the clot passed and I could get some sleep. I remembered relating this event to my Midwife about a week later at a follow-up appointment and the look on her face was aghast. She just shook her head and said why didn’t you call (One of the many benefits of having midwives’ is that they have someone on call 24/7, you literally can always reach one). I didn’t have an answer for her, I knew I wasn’t in labor, I knew they might be busy with living Babies who have a chance and might need them, I never once thought I should call them even though I was in pretty serious distress. Somehow my own suffering did not rank as high enough to ask for help. It turned out ok, I survived but what if something was wrong and I just didn’t ask for help? Because some part of me didn’t feel I needed to. Even thinking about it now makes me want to cry, I didn’t matter enough to myself to ask for help.
Just recently I was on a girl’s trip away and cooking a meal. My friend asked me if there was anything she could do, I told her I had it covered. She responded, “I know you are capable of it, but is there anything I can do to help?” So clearly, here I am 6 years later and still not great at asking for or accepting help. It’s a daily process and maybe one day I will master it, until then I must make it a point of slowing down enough to realize I can rely on others too.
Another place I think we likely all need to focus is on setting up support for ourselves when we must take care of others. For an example of this, I look to the amazing Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “Eat Pray Love” who during the loss of her Lover Rayya Elias had Friends near to take care of herself. I think that often as Healers and Caregivers, we tend to turtle in during our time away from those we care for. Seeking refuge in solitude may be what your spirit is drawn too, but does in refill you or just slowly deplete all your resources? Just as we seek to support and care for others, we need to actively build a team to support and fill us. As a single parent, I think I just get worse and worse at this, being Self Reliant can equate to planning how to do everything yourself. And yet we all need each other, we all need to feel supported and loved, and we all need to learn how to ask for it too.
I think it must be a daily commitment to take a step away and ask yourself what you can do to refill. Is it a hug from a friend? A moment spent hugging a tree. A cup of tea, or even just a full minute to close your eyes and breathe deeply. One thing a day just for you, just a stolen moment that is not practical other than to refill your cup. Until maybe one day we can stop talking ourselves out of making ourselves a priority and into believing that we hold a Value that cannot be duplicated and that this is so much more than worthy of Love and Care.
If you, like me, have slowly begun to realize the futility of giving to the point of personal abandonment, are perhaps wondering how you can possibly live out your life in the constantly exhausted state of personal deplete then I say to you it is time to raise our own battle cry and it is that “We Matter Now” not tomorrow or in a few months few years or decades, not on our deathbed…but now, right now, every day every breath “We Matter Now”.
Namaste – Michiko @SweetSerenityYoga