This truth was a huge perspective shift for me. As I was raising my kids, trying to be the best wife and mom I could be while working full time, my needs came last. I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought this was loving behavior. I now see it differently.
By consistently ignoring my needs, I came to believe, over time, that my needs truly were less important than my husband’s or my children’s needs. I came to value myself less. And, by doing so, I taught them to value me less as well.
I also depleted myself and was worn out a good part of the time. I stopped doing things for myself that re-energized me or filled me back up so I could have more to give. How is it loving behavior to function this way? What good purpose did it serve?
I lost touch with who I am. I know that sounds cliche, but it’s true. I forgot what made me feel alive and joyful. For me, life was a daily choice to remind myself to see the good and muster up the energy needed to meet everyone’s needs for that day.
Post divorce, I made self care a priority. I take time to read and I joined a book club with fabulous women who inspire me. I set aside a little in my budget for pampering. I use my benefit plan from work to get regular massages. I stay in touch with my friends so my social needs are met and I can give and receive support regularly. I make my faith a priority and make time daily for prayer and gratitude. I am working on being more physically active and have remembered why I love yoga so much. I listen to music all the time. I see my counselor when I need to.
My kids have commented many times how much happier I am now. They love seeing me happy. It doesn’t take anything away from them because they know they are still my priority and always will be. But, I am now teaching them that my needs are of equal value to theirs and modeling for them how to take good care of themselves.
THAT is loving behavior.
The most loving thing I can do for those I love is to love myself too. I finally get it.