“Self-worth comes from one thing—thinking that you are worthy.”—Wayne Dyer
Today all my children are back in school. While I was talking to my editor last night, our discussion led to a list of different things I need to work on and deliver to her soon. “The next few days I will have the chance to work on some of these tasks,” I told her, “but not tomorrow, since I am taking the day for myself.”
After the words escaped my lips, I wondered how they sounded to others. I am quite excited to be working on the list she wants me to work on, and it really does not feel like work at all, but after two weeks of refereeing three kids home on winter break, I think I deserve a few hours for myself.
I remember there was a time in my life when I felt guilty about taking personal time. My motto was to run and run, and then to run some more to make sure everything and everyone were taken care of. Being a nurturer by nature, I thought that was the only way to manage things around me, until one day I started feeling sick. When I finally made myself go to the doctor, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease—I hadn’t felt well for a couple of weeks and I was overly-fatigued, but having small children an a million other things I routinely took care of, I never gave even a tiny thought about slowing down. The doctor was horrified by my lack of care toward my own health, and sent me home with a two-week treatment of antibiotics and a lecture.
I recovered from the illness fairly quickly, but I also made a pledge—never again would I allow myself to get so run-down before paying attention. My outlook on a lot of things changed in those few weeks; I needed to be there for the kids, and the house, and my husband, and our business, but who would take care of it all if something happened to me and I had to be hospitalized? Was I so stuck-up to think they would all be on a fast ride to hell if I wasn’t there to check on everything? Of course not; someone else would be taking care of things—maybe in a different way, but they would take care of everything nonetheless. Another thought crossed my mind … could it be the opposite? Could it be that I valued others more than I valued myself?
It didn’t take me long to realize that in order to take care of others I had to first take care of myself. That included not getting emotionally involved in the personal dramas of others—as my friend Dena so beautifully put it, I became compassionately detached. I still cared for everybody, but I also cared for my own wellbeing. After all, only a skilled swimmer in good shape could save a drowning man; if one jumped in the water without being able to swim, or allowed the other person to drag them down in their panic, there would be not just one, but two people drowning. That day long ago, I learned that if I really want to be there for others I must first be there for myself.
So, today myself and I are having a date. I’m planning to go browse new titles at a bookstore in the sweet company of a tall cup of Starbucks’ dark roast until it’s time to pick my daughter up from school. In just a couple of hours, I’ll be happy to be Mom again, but for just a little while it will be fun to just be me.