Thursday, October 4, 2012


Sometimes, the universe really is trying to tell you something.  In a way that is undeniable and immediate.

This morning, it was a charley horse in my calf that yanked me out of a deep sleep in an instant.


The last week or so has been a slog, and as a result my self-care has been neglected significantly.  My legs would like me to stop that, please.  And find something with significant potassium and magnesium in it as well as drink more water.  Now.

Most of life is about what choices we make.

Eat something healthy or grab the ooey-gooey donut on the run and try to make up the nutrition deficit later.  If and when I can find the time and the veggies.  (Big if, some days.)

Get the desperately needed exercise, or make peace with the extra poundage on my thighs and hope diabetes doesn't catch up to me before I can catch up to taking care of myself.

To sleep or do the dishes, the laundry and the rest of the to do list.

It is all a trade-off, isn't it?  When I concentrate my efforts on a task, I see how much more effective and efficient I can be.  How I can plow through an enormous mountain of work in a smaller period of time when I put my mind to getting things done, and doing them properly and with an eye toward excellence.

Far too often, though, I reserve this level of effort for work or for the things that I do for others.   For the care that I try to give to The Peanut and Mr. ReddHedd and every other person in my life.

But not for myself.

As I sit here, I cannot honestly recall many times that I have concentrated my full effort on something that was just for me. I don't think I could count the times that has happened using all the fingers on one hand, quite frankly. That just is not right, is it?

Shouldn't we put as much effort into our own well-being, our own day-to-day care, the things that bring us and only us joy or challenge us to personally move our own internal compass toward our true north regardless of what it does for everyone else?

My husband often says to me that "when momma isn't happy, no one is happy."  It's his way of nudging me to do something for myself when I've been neglecting my own needs in favor of tending to everyone and everything else around me without pausing to bother with myself.

When you have been brought up in an environment where what you personally wanted was secondary at all times to feeding and serving what someone else demanded of you, needed from you, required of you?  Then listening to your own, inner voice on what you need just is not something you do. 

Honestly, I'm not certain that I even know what my own, inner voice even sounds like most days.  What I hear is a voice that tells me what everyone else wants or needs from me in an endless loop.  To the point that I will literally get up out of bed in the middle of the night to check on something that I'm worried that I forgot to do for someone else -- even the dog -- out of fear that I won't remember to do it the next morning.  Even if I am bone weary and desperate for sleep.

But doing something that is just for me seems selfish and small and...wrong.  Always. 

I have been trying to figure out a few days that I can get away for a sort of personal retreat, some time to regroup and maybe do a little writing and definitely relax.  Mr. ReddHedd is encouraging it, because I'm frazzled and exhausted at the moment and I need some time to take care of me.  When I am here in the thick of our day-to-day schedule, I just don't do it -- I find ways to take care of everyone and everything else and put myself at the absolute bottom of my priority list.  Eventually, that catches up with did this past week, and I'm struggling to bounce back from a cold that has truly knocked me flat.

Taking a little time for a personal retreat and re-assessment makes sense on so many levels.  But finding the time and space to book something has proved impossible for weeks now. 

I look at options, but never seem to be able to make up my mind to pick something.  Anything.  I can come up with a million reasons that it will not work for any given place or weekend or even night.  I am struggling to come up with a single reason to make it work in any way.

There is this constant voice in the back of my head that makes it seem impossible:  how selfish to do something just for me; how ridiculous and needy when your family needs you to take care of their needs first; how self-serving of me when there are so many things going on every day that I should be there to manage and juggle and sustain...and the ultimate internal punching bag point, what if they realize they are better off without me there?

That charley horse this morning was trying to tell me something. 

To pull my head up and out of the chaotic storm and stop pretending that everything is fine so long as it is smoothly chugging along for everyone else while I barely keep my head above water as I tread as fast as I can to crest the next wave and the next and the next.  That's how it has been feeling lately, as we literally run out the door toward the next thing and the next and the next without any real pause before we crawl into bed and collapse only to wake up and do this all over again.

Day after day after day.

The sad fact of the matter is that I am drowning myself, shoving my own head back under the water time and time again because I refuse to allow myself time to come up for even a little bit of air -- I've developed some sort of need to prove my worth by showing that I'm willing to be a martyr for the greater good of everyone else in my family, that my value is only really shown through sacrificing myself to the needs of everyone else.  Or at least what I perceive those needs to be, whether or not they are genuinely asking anything of me on their own.  

When I take it out and look at it that way, it sound ridiculous. 

But that is just the honest truth of it:  I define myself by how happy I make everyone else, regardless of the cost to myself that might entail.  The more the sacrifice, the more I shove my own personal needs down in service to someone else, the more valuable I feel like I become to them. 

It feels wrong to be struggling with all of this when our lives are truly so good in so many ways.  We have a loving family, I have a wonderful child who is such a blessing to both of us, and a loving husband who is supportive of me.  So why isn't this enough?

I am 43 years old, about to be 44 in a few weeks, and my entire self-worth is based on how I perceive myself through other people's eyes.  I need to find a way to change that. 

Because it isn't just the charley horse in my calf muscle that is making me feel cramped lately.  The universe really is trying to tell me something.  This morning it feels like it is never too late to start listening to that little inner voice that has to be there somewhere trying to tell me something.  Doesn't it?

(Gorgeous photo via Fc nikon.)

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