Sunday, November 29, 2009

Selfish or Self-Care?

On this journey of self-discovery, I have read a lot about self-care. Taking care of yourself is a necessity if you are going to take care of other people, but it took me a long time to figure that out.

The whole metaphor of the mother and child with the oxygen mask makes sense but doesn’t seem pertinent when you are nursing a 3 month old while holding your son’s hand as he is learning to use the potty. Just trying to get through the day at that point.

But now that my kids are a little older, I know what it’s like to run on empty and have nothing left to give. My question is this:

How do you know if you are taking care of yourself or being selfish?
What crosses the line between nurturing your spirit and ignoring your kids?
What if taking care of yourself means taking away from your marriage and your family?

Whenever my husband watches my kids for the afternoon, and I get to do something fun like go to a movie or go shopping, I feel like myself on those days. I am so relaxed and can say a full sentence without being interrupted! I do miss and love my kids, but I want to draw those days out, I don’t want to go home right away.

Maybe it’s because I don’t work in enough “me” time on a daily basis so then I “binge” on the weekends when my husband is home. Or maybe because I am wasting energy on time-suckers like Facebook or TIVO instead of exercising or doing a hobby I really love.

The sad thing is that the only two times I have felt REALLY rested and relaxed was 1) when I had sinus surgery and was laid up in bed for a week and 2) when I had meningitis and was in the hospital on morphine. How sad is that?!

I had no where to go, no chores to do, no questions to answer, no games to be played – just a quiet room to read, eat and nap in. And it was WONDERFUL. Obviously, these are clear signs that the self-care thing was not working out for me.

But even now, when I do something for myself, I feel guilty in the back of my mind. Maybe I need to re-read this by Renee Trudeau:

This is really one of the most beautiful, freeing things I have ever read. If I am going to love other people, I have to learn to love myself first, flaws and all. It would be selfish not to.

“Moment to moment, there are only two choices: love or fear. Which will you choose?” – Renee Trudeau

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