Self Care vs. Being Selfish

Change is hard for everyone. Change can make other people around you uncomfortable especially as you get stronger. When you are changing the relationship that you once had and it takes time for other to adjust.

Going in to hospital for 4 months and learning how to care for myself changed my life forever. It took that sad, depressed, anxious, suicidal, confused, world hating girl that I was and showed me a way out. It has been almost 3 years of daily work (I’ve worked my arse off!), setbacks, therapy, plus unending support from my wonderful friends, my amazing husband and his terrific family.
It hasn’t been easy but it has been worth it.

The adults in my life have watched me work and watched me change. They’ve seen my progress and have encouraged me to continue moving forwards. They are also there when I go backwards and when it is needed, they are ever willing to give me a good kick in the arse to get going in the right direction again. 🙂
I appreciate that more than they all know even though I do try to express it.

Then there is the fallout and it is big.
My 3 children and I had great relationships before I went away and now they want nothing to do with me at all. This is heartbreaking for both my husband and I. They were loved, cared for, never harmed, and always the apples of my eye. For 2 decades, I lived almost solely for them.
I do understand why they are pulling away though (even though it sucks). 3 years ago, I agreed to everything they ever said without question. I had no opinions of my own, I just adopted theirs. Even the big things. If they believed in God, so did I. If they didn’t, I didn’t either. I didn’t have a clue about who I was. Keeping them happy and willing to share themselves with me was all I cared about. I constantly feared that they woudl leave me or feel I was unworthy… Now it has happened. 😦

It is not my childrens fault that they did not see that I was basically a doormat for the family. I was the cook, taxi, nurse, counsellor and I took them to countless appointments, listened for hours to their thoughts and I tried to accommodate their wishes. They came first ALL the time.  This is good to a point especially when they are very little but I really taught them that my needs, wants, hopes and wishes were either nonexistent or unimportant. This wasn’t even noticeable to them, it was just how things always were because I didn’t know any better and I did not value myself at all. It is said that you teach people how to treat you and it is most certainty the truth. I taught them to think as little of me as I thought of myself. It made them very selfish in many ways.

Then I went away and started to get help. I began to learn who I was by doing countless silly quizzes that I found online. When I started, I didn’t even have a favourite colour. I always said “rainbow” because I really didn’t have a clue what I liked. Whatever you liked was fine with me. Now I know my favourite colour is indigo blue. My favourite type of music is very expansive but I do not like jazz or rap at all. My passion is to create. Writing is my true love but finding others ways to be creative is very important to me too. These are areas where I excel. I am no good at all with math or anything that requires attention to small details but that is okay. Someone else can be good at that. I have a fear of horses but I love dogs. I am a good friend but I am not always an easy friend to have. I challenge people to think differently or to try to do something differently. This is not always easy to deal with. One friend recently told me how peeved she was with me for asking her to make a change in her marriage but at the end of the week, she was grateful because it helped. I’ve also learned that I don’t care if I am hated for a little while if someone needs to be angry so long as they use that energy for their benefit.
Of course there is so much more but I know who I am now. I learn a little more each and every day but this new knowledge has also led me to a new place…
I’ve finally realized that I am important.

I am important. Not more important than anyone else but not less either. I always put myself at the bottom of the heap. Kids first, husband second, friends and in-laws followed. Then the house pets, acquaintances or just someone walking down the street. Then me. I didn’t even know that I was doing that to be honest. I just always put everyone else above me. I would plan some time alone then answer phone calls all through it. I would set a time to get together with someone then the kids would call and ask to be picked up after school. I’d immediately cancel my plans. I had my own mental health issues but never took any time to take care of them because my children had needs too.

I know now that I need to be at the top of that “food chain”. If I do not care for myself first, I have nothing to give to anyone else. By taking care of myself first, I am actually being even more giving to others because now I actually have something to share with them. I am no longer that empty shell.

Sadly this change is not seen by many as a good thing. Most adults? yes. My children? No. This change has been viewed as me becoming selfish. I know others have dealt with this too from husbands, their own children, friends or family members. It is not that these other people are necessarily bad people. They are just having a hard time adjusting to the new you or the new me. When we get healthier, we change all the rules that we’ve lived by for most or all of our lives. This is uncomfortable for almost everyone. They need time to adjust.

The fact that my children refuse to speak to me absolutely breaks me heart. While other people in my life cheer me on, my children just don’t like the new me.
I dearly hope that one day they will take a new look at me and see that I have become a whole person. I am no longer that suicidal empty shell that I was 3 years ago. I hope they will learn to appreciate who I am and accept me for just being myself.

Taking care of yourself first can really throw some people off but you need to do it anyways. YOU are important. YOU matter. YOU deserve all the same things that you give to others. You may lose some people along the way and I hope they come back to you like I hope my children come back to me but if they don’t? You are still a healthier and happier person when you take care of #1. YOU.

We all need people in our lives that offer us support, encouragement and take joy in our successes. Those who wish you to go backwards or be someone other than who you really are do not deserve to be in your life. Don’t accept less from anyone in your life than what you would offer them.

Taking care of yourself is self-care and not self-ish.


One response to “Self Care vs. Being Selfish

  1. I am so sorry Heather. You do NOT deserve that from you children. I expect they are pretty peeved that you are no longer doing everything for them and are no longer at their beck and call! It would have been great if my mum had been like that (though not for het)! But even if you hadn’t gone to Homewood, they are no longer kids and should realise that you are their parent, not their servant.
    You have been very honest with me, an AWESOME friend, sharing what you have learned has helped me hugely. Cwtches to you and


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