For so long I have worried, stressed, and cared more about how I could take care of everyone else’s problems. How I could help them? How I could make them realize the changes that needed to be made? I stressed about their happiness and forgot about my own.
I had become a zombie of sorts, aimlessly walking through this thing called life. I had become an “okay” and most days “less than mediocre” mom, sister, friend, girlfriend, and employee. I was distracted by all the chaos, uncertainty, and mistrust. I was consuming myself in a world that wasn’t mine.
But then one day I lost it. I knew I had lost all control of the things I’d actually never had control of. I was tired. I was broken, and I had given up. I’m not a quitter or a crier, so I knew it was time to fix it when all I did was cry for two days straight. I finally did it: I accepted defeat. I couldn’t fix this myself, and I needed help. I had toyed with the idea of seeing a therapist off and on for years, but I kept telling myself, “You’re not crazy enough…you can do this on your own.” But guess what? I couldn’t. And I didn’t have to. After my first session I knew it wasn’t defeat, I wasn’t crazy…I was taking care of me for once. Reaching out to get myself through one of the most difficult stages of my life to date was hands-down the best decision I’ve made.
See, once I realized that you can’t pour from an empty cup or a bucket filled with holes, things started to change. I started relaxing physically and mentally. Literally, I could feel the stress and tension leave my neck and shoulders. I started using the phrase “that doesn’t concern me” so often in my head that it could have been on repeat for hours. I began laughing and playing with my daughter again. I had heartfelt conversations with my friends that were in no way negative or trying to “fix” something. I remembered how to be me. The me I hadn’t seen in years. The one that thrives on spontaneity, adventure, and laughter and good conversation.
And the less I worried about others, the more I cared about myself. My only concerns were taking care of myself and my beautiful daughter. Making sure she felt the love and understanding. Things just kept moving forward and in the direction I had been trying so hard to push them for years.
I began accepting myself and looking in the mirror without cringing. The things I used to cringe at are now a positive. The “tiger stripes” on my stomach are now a daily reminder of the beautiful miracle I gave birth to. The bags under my eyes are there because I’m so fortunate to be packing and cleaning to move to a better house for my daughter and me. To begin a new story together. The few pounds I’ve gained back from being able to sit and watch hours of gymnastics, soccer, and baseball each week instead of stressing about making it to the gym.
I began worrying less about tasks and more about interactions. The clutter on the counter and the piles of laundry don’t need to be done this instant. They sit quietly until my daughter is in bed and I am ready for them. I stopped worrying about what others wanted to do and started making my own plans. I took time to read a book, something I love and missed so much.
I learned that when you start accepting yourself, taking care of your needs, and not concerning yourself with everyone else’s path, you begin to pave your own. I must say, I’m loving this perspective, and my only regret is not getting on it sooner.
[Photo credit to Jenni Newton]
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