Category Archives: self-care

Hurting Ourselves For Others (living their expectations instead of our lives)

Standard

horse-473093_960_720

“It wasn’t until I began to love myself that I was willing to let others down.” Lucille Zimmerman

When my cowgirl friend told me a story about Bob, I related to her horse like we were old buddies. Bob’s trainer said, “You have to be careful pushing him because he’s a pleaser. He’ll hurt himself for you.”

Unfortunately, people don’t think much about this when it comes to each other, so we push.

Like the church worker who “pushed” – she knew I taught school and had two young children at home, but still asked if I’d help with the youth program. When I turned her down because I was burnt out by late afternoon, she said, “If everyone felt like you, we wouldn’t have a youth program.”

“If everyone felt like me, we shouldn’t have one,” I said. My atypical response even surprised me. 

anxiety-1156279_960_720

Self-care like this, even though the church-worker never did “get it,” would have helped when my family balked at my idea to eat out on Thanksgiving. They pushed for the same meal at Thanksgiving and Christmas, which took days of preparation. I felt overwhelmed locking myself into traditions I didn’t want to keep. Sometimes I’d have to throw out food from the first holiday so I’d have a dish to put the same food in for the second holiday. I wondered if I could get by at Christmas on Thanksgiving’s leftovers.

It would have been a relief to know about self-care when my husband, John, pushed to buy a fishing boat, two jet skis, a Triumph TR6, and two motorcycles. I wanted him to be happy whether I was or not. Spending money on big toys caused a lot of tension I didn’t talk about.

I wish I’d known about self-care when I kept teaching even though the stress of the job contributed to my anxiety and high blood pressure. Plus, I didn’t enjoy a lot of what went along with teaching like scrutiny, endless meetings, and duties outside the classroom. John didn’t mean to push, but he did, when he sat silent while I talked about quitting every August before school restarted. His silence, instead of a discussion about changing careers, made me think I had to go back again and again and again.

When I talked over self-care with a friend whose personality tends to be more like my husband’s than mine, she admitted she wishes she’d encouraged her husband to change jobs sooner.

However, like John, she’s not the caretaker in the family; her husband is. Instead of offering support, she ignored how miserable he was at work for fear he’d quit and put an end to the family’s substantial income. They could live on a lesser budget, but she didn’t want to. It wasn’t because she didn’t care about him, although I’ve thought this of my family and friends when they’ve pushed their agendas that hurt. She pushed because she liked staying home with their babies and being able to spend what she wanted. Her husband’s now working a different job and happier, and they are fine financially.

I admire my friend for piping up about the topic of someone else’s self-care because it’s rare for the person who wants what they want to stop the one who is providing it.

The person in the most pain typically is the one who has to change, but it’s hard because we’re also the ones most caught up in the “push.” We want others to have what they want, and they want that too. We end up pressuring ourselves and so do they. We have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable when others don’t like how we change.

I learned about self-care because of a health scare and depression, because one of my kids urged me to figure it out, and because a doctor warned me if I didn’t pay attention to my physical and emotional health, I wouldn’t be around to see my son and daughter graduate from high school.

heart-742712_960_720

Not overnight, but gradually I’ve pushed myself to change, making strides toward self-care …

The Thanksgiving after I suggested eating out, we did. I made reservations for whoever wanted to join me because I wasn’t cooking. It’s been an annual tradition ever since to try a different restaurant unless our grown children volunteer to make the meal.

I encouraged John to sell everything on wheels in the garage and driveway except his truck and to swap it all for something we both liked riding, a golf cart.

Almost two decades ago, I quit my teaching job a week before school started. I tried to talk Larry, a fellow teacher, into doing the same. He and I talked for an hour about self-care while I sorted through teaching supplies to leave behind for the teacher taking my place. Larry had been offered a job as full-time music minister at a church, but convinced himself he had to teach two more years until his son graduated. He had a heart attack a couple of months later (during a faculty meeting) and died. Sadly, he was the one who didn’t see his child graduate. His death had a big impact on my continued self-care.

Change isn’t easy. Our caring people – parents, spouses, children, friends, bosses – care most about us staying the same because that’s most convenient for them. In the psychology books, this is called homeostasis, which is the tendency to keep things as they are.

Homeostasis is promoted by negative feedback loops like pulling back from something because it hurts.

Change, on the other hand, is promoted by positive feedback loops like noticing exercise makes you feel better so you walk more often. Both loops are necessary.

(The info about homeostasis is from an article by Alison Bonds Shapiro M.B.A., and I’ve shared the link below if you’d like to read more. Also below is a story I heard during one of my counseling classes about homeostasis, and its power to trap us into hurting ourselves for others.)

It’s important to recognize, however, that homeostasis, a necessary state of maintaining sameness, is easier than creative change, a necessary state of constantly transforming.

In other words, it’s a push and pull that keeps life balanced and beautiful. However, few people advocate change when they can’t yet see the beauty. They’re thinking about the change and how it may negatively impact them like giving up the household’s second income.

So, our pain (that may be contributed to by someone else wanting us to stay the same) ends up being ours to fix.

We can let others know what’s going on with us. If they support us, this is a plus. Support makes it easier to implement the change to eliminate our pain. However, when the people we wish were our support group turn away or sit silent because they know our change is going to cost them something too, we have to change anyway. A lot of times, our lives depend on it.

Is there something you need to change because it’s causing you pain? Is there someone who doesn’t want you to change? I hope you’ll care for yourself enough to change anyway.

#selfcaringin2017 #gettingyourownlife #whilelovingthepeopleinit

In This Together,
Kim

“Getting Out of the Way: The Balance Between Homeostasis and Growth” by Alison Bonds Shapiro M.B.A.

Here’s an extreme example of how we hurt ourselves for others, told by one of my professors during a lesson on homeostasis.

A young girl (of a mother who needed to be needed) became confined to a wheelchair almost overnight. She was taken to dozens of doctors, but not one of them came up with a diagnosis. Nothing was wrong, yet nothing gave them any hope she’d walk again. Not physical therapy. Not medication. Not experimental interventions. She stayed in a wheelchair for years until her mother died, and then miraculously got up and walked. She agreed to counseling and being part of a study that verified what doctors suspected – she’d become disabled because she recognized and took responsibility for how desperately her mom needed someone to care for.

Advertisements

Shame Can Kill You (or make you wish you were dead)

Standard

steps-388914_960_720

“Shame is worse than death.” Unknown

My uncle’s sexual abuse didn’t impact my life as much as Mom ignoring it, and there was one particular Sunday afternoon that left unshakable shame.

The family was all together and playing croquet in the backyard when my uncle slapped my behind. I started screaming and wouldn’t stop. Mom grabbed my arm and walked me inside and up the stairs out of earshot. When she asked why the outburst, all I could say through crying was, “He hurt me.”

I begged her not to make me pull down my pants, but she did anyway because she wanted to see if he’d left a mark. He hadn’t because my fit wasn’t about how hard he popped me, but about the abuse. I knew better than to explain because it was too painful for Mom to listen to. She and my uncle had been through it also, and worse, with their dad. Her ultimatum – return to the backyard and apologize to my uncle or stay in my room. I wish I’d chosen the second. At least I would have felt a little powerful.

fear-299679_960_720

Because shame left me afraid to share how I felt and afraid of others’ punishment, I’ve felt shaky living through an election year that’s been similar to living with my family of origin.

I’ve snuck around Facebook trying to determine if my vote was okay

… just like I used to sit outside my parents’ bedroom door and eavesdrop on their conversations, trying to figure out if our family was okay.

I’ve kept my candidate’s name to myself even when others loudly announced voting for the opposite person, and attacked anyone who disagreed

… just like listening to my family judge people until I’d feel so uncomfortable I’d ask, “Aren’t we doing those same things?”

I offered up common ground the evening a friend brought up politics, “You know, neither candidate is an ideal choice for the presidency.” She said, “Really? I’m not so sure about that,” letting me know she believed her candidate was ideal

… just like sitting across the table from my dad and brother during one of their arrogant rants.

Out of nowhere (except maybe the election results), a friend stopped liking and commenting on my Facebook posts including grandparent ones, a commonality we’ve shared and “liked” for a couple of years now. On his page, instead of sharing his precious granddaughter, he’s posting offensive political posts, one after another. I’ve fluctuated between sad and maddened since, like Mom, he’s favoring retribution over relationships. I don’t understand, which I’ve said repeatedly this past 365 days.

disgrace-230907_960_720

This election’s taught me more about dealing with shame than dealing with politics. I’ve had to choose between these …

Be silent and feel ashamed.

Speak out and be shamed.

This time around, I did choose the second and I do feel more powerful.

And …

 I’m choosing well in relationships too because I’m no longer 13, the age I was on the stairs with Mom, and there’s no longer anyone with power to shame me (or you). Committing to these may help both of us.

  • No longer giving into the uncertainty of self-doubt.
  • No longer standing by for hurt caused by judgment.
  • No longer heeding voices of the unreasonable and the arrogant.
  • No longer reacting to another’s punishment.
  • No longer letting shame silence us.

So …

summer-635247_960_720

I’m proposing what my friend and fellow writer put forth. Jacqui said, “I have been working to ‘stay out in the open’ in the recent year or so, despite the palpable repercussions.”

No matter our own self-doubt and others’ judgment, arrogance, and punishment, it’s self-caring, and maybe even self-saving, to stay out in the open and not allow politics or anything else to shame us. As always, it’s easier to step into the open when we are …

In This Together,
Kim

 

 

Where Have I Been???

Standard

blog-where-have-you-been-all-my-life

“Sometimes the person who’s been there for everyone else needs to be there for herself.” S. Kim Henson

I’m funniest in the shower, like this morning. I asked myself a slightly revised question from the movie Sabrina, and in the same tone William Holden asked it of Audrey Hepburn, “Where have I been all my life?”

I laughed, and then, giving it a second thought, genuinely asked it out loud, “Where have I been all my life?”

By the time I wrapped myself in a towel, I sounded annoyed, “Where have I been all my life?”

An hour later, I scrolled through Christmas photos on my phone and found the one I shared above of my three-year-old granddaughter. Her self-studying picture reminded me I hadn’t answered my question, and to answer it gently.

A friend’s suggestion to evaluate my life in seven-year scenes, or thereabouts, seemed a good idea for coming up with an account of where I’ve been. Aside from specifics, maybe you’ll relate.

I spent the first eight years or so of my life – Scene One – growing up on military bases in New York. Mom disliked being away from her family in South Carolina, which meant Dad tried appeasing her until he could get her back to the South. Homesick wasn’t all that was wrong, so I set out at a very young age to figure out and fix us.

I confused a playful childhood with child labor – trying to be silly enough, cute enough, and obedient enough to give Mom and Dad reasons to lighten up, laugh, and be happy in place of her crying and him covering his pain with anger.

Dad was stationed in Vietnam the first year of Scene Two, around the time I turned nine. He moved Mom, my brother, and me to Mom’s childhood home in South Carolina, which also meant being moved in with my great aunt who raised my mom. I cherished Aunt Viola, but I think Dad felt differently. When he returned to the states, he bought a motel in a nearby resort town and lived there seven, then eight, and finally nine months out of every year.

By then, I was hiding out because we weren’t normal anymore. We no longer had a dad, a mom, and siblings living together while Dad worked 9 to 5. Being “not normal anymore” also meant my mentally ill uncle moved in and out of my great aunt’s house, so he lived with us on and off. His disturbing behavior left behind even more to hide.

During Scene Three, I graduated from high school, chose a local college since I was too anxious to move away, and attached myself to my future husband to help me escape the house I wouldn’t leave. We eloped at age 20. Mom gifted us baby presents because she was certain I’d run off to get married because I’d gotten pregnant. Our first child was born five years later.

I ran, although uncertain where I was headed. In retrospect, I was making a run for the metaphorical white picket fence, a place where I convinced myself I’d feel loved enough, taken care of enough, and safe enough.

For the next 28 years, the next four scenes of my life, I moved back to my hometown to live close by my parents who I eventually distanced myself from. I made up a fairytale marriage. I birthed and raised two children (who, by the way, are my two accomplishments that are “enough”). I worked determinedly and went back to school for degrees to teach, counsel, supervise, and write so as to increase my income and my self-worth, and to prove myself to people who weren’t paying much attention. I chose some wrong friends who made me feel important for the same “wrong” reason I picked them – their prominence, not their praiseworthiness. Most of my actions were okay, but my motives, well, not so much. I did a lot of what I did in hopes that I’d earn enough, buy enough, elevate myself enough, help enough, be seen enough, be needed enough, accomplish enough to ultimately persuade myself I was enough.

I immersed myself in other people’s scenes so I wouldn’t have to engage in my own conflicted ones. I lost myself in their lives because I wasn’t sure how to get my own.

It wasn’t until my most recent scene, preceded by Dad’s death and when I was coming up on 50, that I began showing up the way I believe we’re supposed to – for me, for my life’s purpose, and for my God. I stepped back from being confused, hiding, running, and immersing myself in others. I’m excited you’re still reading because this is the scene with the hashtags, the ones that help us focus on ourselves. #selfcaringin2017 #gettingyourownlife #whilelovingthepeopleinit

But first, before I worked my way up to wondering Where have I been all my life?, I wondered where all these people, places, and things in my life came from. At half-a-century-old (that’ll get your attention), I was no longer able to disregard uncomfortable questions that kept surfacing.

questions-1922477_960_720

Questions like …

Why am I living in this big house? In this town? Why do I do for others what they can and should do for themselves? Why do I spend time with people I discern aren’t friends or even kind, for that matter? Why’d I spend money on that? Why do I tolerate disrespect? Lying? Others calling me crazy when they’re the ones driving me there? Why don’t I feel emotionally safe? Why don’t I fit in at church? Any church? Ever? Why do I rise to others’ expectations, but not my own? Why am I avoiding the gym? Why do I sidestep genuine friendships? Why am I procrastinating when productivity makes me feel good? Why don’t I pick up the phone when I need someone? Why don’t I like to cook? Why do I make writing difficult? Why am I eating a third Reese Cup?

Nine years of “cleaning house,” sometimes literally like the time we downsized from 4,000 to 1,000 square feet, and I’m finally asking the foundational question that undergirds the rest, “Where have I been all my life?”

 … and how appropriate for it to pop into my head at the start of 2017, the year I’ve committed to self-care … and how appropriate during a shower because water is a big part of my self-care.

shield-1784661_960_720

 So, where have I been all my life? Answer the question, already.

I’m where most of us are right now, no matter our ages – I’m right here (like on the map in a shopping center: “You are here”) and doing all I can to make my story better. Aren’t we all? Isn’t “being better” what most of us attempt daily in our lives? We try to look younger, eat healthier, get wealthier, promote louder, work harder, act calmer, help further, workout longer, treat others kinder, connect deeper, pray profounder, feel stronger, and all so we’ll be better.

We just want to “arrive,” and though arriving is impossible this side of heaven, I believe one inroad to being better is self-care. I hope you’re with me since it’s easier to get better together. #selfcaringin2017

In This Together,
Kim

I’m inviting you back next week to read about acceptance and tolerance. #selfcaring2017 #whilelovingthepeopleinit

My Word for 2017 – Self-Care

Standard

hands-423794_960_720

“One word can change everything.” OneWord365.com

Every year since 2012, instead of making resolutions, I’ve chosen a word of the year. Unlike resolutions, I actually remember my word and I make progress because of it. So far, my words have been …

2012 – Incremental
2013 – Ponder
2014 – Content
2015 – Revise & Momentum
2016 – Love

I panic near the end of the year and try to force a word into Word of the Year if I haven’t yet figured out one or if one hasn’t “found” me, which is usually how it works. Sometimes a word shows up so many times, I can’t ignore it. Or I hear it in a song and it sounds like the only word being sung. Or it shows up in a meaningful quote or sermon or passage from a book.

By mid-December, I tried to coerce myself into choosing one of these words: laughter, reassurance, freedom. “Reassurance” almost made the cut, until the shower at my daughter’s house (I’d spent the night at her home after babysitting my grandkids) when “self-care” popped into my head. I do my best thinking on walks and in the shower. In November, I began a 10-session online course on the topic of self-care, so I’m guessing the word was lying in wait.

While dressing, I asked my daughter, who, by the way, knew nothing about the course, “If you picked any word for me in 2017, what would it be?”

“Self-care,” she said after she thought for about three seconds.

I squealed.

“That settles it. Self-care is my word,” I said.

Yep, that’s how it usually works for me.

bath-water-915589_960_720

Last year, I started another practice based on Word of the Year – I put up cover photos on Facebook that only related to my word for 2016, which was love, so I posted lots of Love-ly hearts. I’ll do the same this year except the images will be about self-care. Today’s cover photo seemed a good way to start off 2017’s self-care. It’s a poster of a bathtub with the saying, “Happiness is a long hot bubble bath. Relax. Recharge. Renew.”

hashtag-850363_960_720

Since Word of the Year is turning into quite the project for me, I’m adding a hashtag for 2017 in addition to the two I already regularly use, #GettingYourOwnLife #WhileLovingthePeopleInIt. This year’s highlight is #selfcaringin2017 because women need all the help and hashtags we can get when it comes to living our lives and taking care of ourselves.

Have you chosen a word for 2017? If so, let us know what it is. I’ll be happy to share “self-care” with anyone who wants to join me for a whole year of taking care of us. I plan to blog about it often.

In This Together,
Kim

Thanks for the pix, Pixabay.com

Thanks for the suggestion about a hashtag in 2017, Jenine.

Thanks for the course, Lucille.

 

Click the link if you’re interested in signing up for the 10-session work-at-your-own-pace course I mentioned above for only $59, Renaissance U: Lessons on Selfcare taught by a Licensed Professional Counselor.

Friend Lucille Zimmerman, instructor of the course, covers self-care topics including The Fine Art of Solitude, The Fine Art of Boundaries, and The Fine Art of Play. Lucille is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, Colorado. She’s an affiliate faculty professor at Colorado Christian University. She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World.

 

 

Boundaries or Bound by Others? (it’s your choice)

Standard

directory-973992_960_720

“You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.” Tony Gaskins

I had never heard the word boundaries used in reference to relationships until a counselor told me I didn’t have any. She said, “You have no idea where you end and where others begin.”

According to Merriam-Webster, here are the definitions of boundaries as they relate to people:

  • A point or limit that indicates where two things become different. (Okay, so this isn’t about people, but it’s a logical reminder about the point where I end and you begin.)
  • Unofficial rules about what should not be done.
  • Limits that define acceptable behavior.

Most of us think setting boundaries is about saying “no.” And it is. And setting boundaries is also about saying “yes” … to us and to what we need and want.

Boundaries are about saying “yes” to #GettingYourOwnLife.

And saying “yes” to #LovingthePeopleinIt.

Because boundaries, even though they may not seem loving at first glance, are just as much about caring for others as they are about caring for ourselves.

Here’s what Betty (a friend I learned a lot from) told me about boundaries. She said, “If you do what’s best for you, it’s best for everyone.”

Her advice sounded selfish, but it’s not, because what’s best for us is to live our lives according to what God has in mind for us, not what our family and friends have in mind.

rock-line-quartz-1199135_960_720

 

Drawing a line is wise.

Drawing a line is a form of self-care and a way to be kind to others.

Drawing a line is the litmus test for dozens of demands made on our time, energy, and finances.

Here’s an example of a boundary Betty helped me set early on, and also an example of how it turned out best for everyone.

Betty and I talked about my family’s tumultuous Sunday afternoon lunches at Mom’s house. She said, “Have you ever thought about not going?”

“We’ve been getting together for years. Mom would be so upset if we stopped,” I said.

“Really? Are you sure about that?”

I was convinced breaking tradition would cause more turmoil, but Betty convinced me to take a break. She said, “Why don’t you give it a try and see what happens?”

I made up some excuse for missing the next couple of Sunday lunches. Mom didn’t seem upset like I dreaded. In fact, she looked relieved. By the third Sunday, she had her own excuse for missing lunch. The rest of the family who Mom cooked for decided to take a break as well. It was best for everyone when our decade-long tradition ended.

Some boundaries aren’t as easily implemented. Actually, that one didn’t seem easy except in retrospect. However, following through helped me see the value in doing what’s best for me (not out of selfishness, but from a place of self-care and other-care). I saw Betty’s perspective on “doing what’s best for you” as it turned out to be best for everyone.

There are easier boundaries to set like declining a request to head up a program at church or saying “no” when asked to donate time or money to a cause we’re not devoted to. I say “easier,” but sometimes these are hard no’s for us people pleasers. There are harder no’s, though, like a friend who left her daughter in jail after several arrests and another friend who dropped off her son at a homeless shelter after he stole from her to sustain his addiction. These boundaries don’t sound best for anyone, but consider the alternative of reinforcing (like the quote says) destructive behavior.

access-933136_960_720

Setting boundaries (doing what’s best for you that ends up being best for everyone) includes all sorts of things like …

  • Asking for and expecting respect from family and friends. Setting boundaries may mean ending a conversation with  a spouse who is verbally abusive or taking time off from an adult child who continually manipulates to get his/her way. It may mean limiting time with a friend who complains non-stop or who gives non-stop advice.
  • Refusing to fund adult children (or anyone else) if giving them money jeopardizes your finances or jeopardizes them taking responsibility. Setting boundaries may mean cutting off an allowance or not paying their rent so you’re able to afford your own bills. I have two widowed friends who struggle financially month-to-month because their sons borrowed large sums of money they can’t repay.
  • Checking into childcare for grandchildren and senior care for sick or aging family members if you notice a decline in your own physical or emotional well-being. Setting boundaries may mean seeking assistance for them so you don’t end up having to be taken care of yourself.
  • Saying “no” to church, to school and community activities, and to other people’s agendas when their plans don’t coincide with the ones you and God agreed on. Setting boundaries may mean dropping off committees, declining to help with important ministries, and deciding not to show up for every worthy cause.

energy-139366_960_720

Do yourself a favor. Free your energy by setting a boundary today.

Setting boundaries restricts destructive behavior (#whileLovingthePeopleinIt) that could divert our time, energy, and money from what we believe we’ve been called to do (#GettingYourOwnLife). It’s a favor to everyone to set them. 

Do you have boundaries that need setting?

In This Together,
Kim

I appreciate the images, Pixabay.com. Gotta buy you that coffee one of these days.

Isolated or Insulated (living safe with people)

Standard

IMG_5759

“I feel safer keeping a space, a gentle breeze between me and people, a buffer I like to think of as God.” S. Kim Henson

When John accused me of isolating, he mixed up his words and instead said, “It concerns me how much you’re insulating yourself from others.”

“I know you don’t mean that as a good thing, but insulating to me sounds like a safe haven,” I said.

Ever since that evening, when I catch myself staying at home more often and staying away from people a little more, I say, “Here I go insulating again.”

And it’s okay. I’ve accepted and figured out ways to deal with being afraid of people, especially ones who know how I should live.

We all judge, but there are variations of judgment. Some are good judgments and some are bad. Some are accurate and some inaccurate. Some seem fairer and more reasonable than others.

Some friends judge in negative ways and know they shouldn’t. I’ve done it myself and way too many times. We know we don’t really know how others should live.

Some judge and know they’re right. These friends scare me.

When I detached from my family of origin, a friend confronted me in a restaurant about my decision. One of my mom’s friends confronted me from behind the register at a gift shop. I put my purchase back on the glass shelf and walked out. A local reader of my blog sent an email warning me I should visit my mom or I’d regret it. None of these townspeople knew much, if anything, about my family’s dysfunction, disorders, and secrets, yet they judged.

When I couldn’t be there for a friend who lost her son, I wrote a blog post about doing the best I could, which meant showing up at a distance. The post, Compassion, aroused a judgmental response that said I should have been there for her. I chose not to share it in the comment section.

I could write on and on about how afraid I’ve been of people this election year. Their fierceness behind knowing they are right scares me and stirs up feelings of being judged, feelings that my choice of a candidate couldn’t possibly be right if it’s not the same as their choice.

While writing this and thinking about how I’ve vacillated between isolating and insulating, I looked up the two words. They showed up as synonyms in a couple of online resources, but I have no idea why. They feel very different when I’m living them.

Here are definitions that resonated and made the most sense for this post.

Isolate – having minimal contact or little in common with others.
Synonyms: solitary, lonely, companionless, friendless; secluded, cloistered, segregated, unsociable, reclusive, hermitic, lonesome, cutoff

Insulate – protect by interposing material that prevents the loss of heat or the intrusion of sound.
Synonyms: wrap, sheathe, cover, coat, encase, enclose, envelop; heatproof, soundproof; pad, cushion

I’ve isolated so people wouldn’t find out how afraid I was of them and how afraid I’ve been of just about everything. I figured I didn’t have anything to lose by putting up walls and a façade.

I was wrong because I lost myself.

By never letting anyone know me, I shut myself off from everyone including John and our two adult children. I remember our son’s bewildered face the evening at our mountain house when he questioned some of my choices, like no longer exercising and staying on Facebook for hours at a time. I admitted I was depressed. He had no idea and neither did our daughter.

John helped me distinguish between isolation and insulation, even if by accident.

blog empty roomI no longer want to isolate and keep people at a far off distance. It’s depressing to be solitary and secretive.

Insulation, on the other hand, has turned out to be the gift of learning to live among people and letting them know who I am. It’s the gift of blogging again.

 At the same time that I’m showing up, I also keep a space between us – a gentle breeze, a buffer I like to think of as God – so I can make my own judgments, as well as accepting others’ conclusions whether I agree with them or not.

It’d be helpful to hear ways you’ve taken care of yourself while living among and loving family, friends, and the not so friendly.

In this Together,
Kim

On the side: I’m learning from Summer Turner’s pilot program, Move Forward from INSIDE Your Comfort Zone, about how introversion has influenced my life, which in turn influenced this blog post. I’ll share more information and links when she launches her online course.

Taking “Taking Care of Yourself” Too Far (when does self-care turn selfish?)

Standard

1455934_551305508292231_928200373_n copy

“Take care of yourself as much as you want to be taken care of.”
   S. Kim Henson

“You have taken ‘taking care of yourself’ too far,” he said.

If you’re like me, this kind of accusation can wreck a week.

It can happen even when we have a plan – one so important we think nothing can make us stumble. Before the wreckage, we’re stirred and determined. From now on, we’ll take 20,000 steps daily, eat chia seeds on everything, pay off all debt. We’ll go to the gym four times a week, write 500 words a day, and learn to knit and paint.

For a moment, we have boundless energy. Our lives seem all about us and what we want to accomplish. Until we let “thinking we’re selfish” derail us …

Chaos calls and we should help.

A loved one disagrees, so we shouldn’t do it.

His or her ideas supersede ours and we let them.

We deflate and so do our plans.

1526144_10207124088052083_2127828021576577318_n copy

 

Even during my teen years (when we’re expected to be selfish), I didn’t do what I wanted. I turned down a motorcycle ride with the cute guy because Dad witnessed a fatal motorcycle accident. I stayed home from spend-the-night parties if I thought boys might drop by because of Mom’s fears. I didn’t cut school to go to lunch with friends for fear of getting caught and disappointing my parents.

People pleasing seemed an unshakable flaw. Whatever I did at home and work, I did because I thought someone else wanted me to do it. On the other hand, if you didn’t like it, I didn’t do it.

I’ve been stirred and determined for a while now to prioritize self-care. About the time I asserted myself, I was told I was taking it “too far.” My thoughts went to failure, I’ll never take care of myself without feeling wrong and selfish. It’s too hard.

I remembered what a friend said, “Just because they don’t like it doesn’t mean you’re wrong. You can do it anyway.”

The first time I heard “do it anyway,” it sounded like treason.

This time around, it sounded like freedom.

“You’re going to have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” she said.

Since there will be push back from people at home, people at work, people in the church, and voices in our heads, how do we figure out if it’s discomfort or if we’ve crossed the line to selfishness?

I wonder if it’s even possible for someone like us (people who worry about being selfish) to take “taking care of ourselves” too far. It’s like a conversation I heard between a newcomer in recovery and a seasoned member. The newcomer said, “It scares me to let go of others and take care of myself. I’m afraid I’ll be selfish and let go too much.”

The fellow she was talking with looked amused, I think because he knew there was little chance she’d be selfish. He said, “Why don’t you give ‘taking care of yourself’ a try. You’ll know if you’re taking it too far.”

In other words, if you’re worried about taking “taking care of yourself” too far, you probably won’t.

In This Together,
Kim

Thanks so much for permission to use your photography, Rhonda Hensley. This probably wasn’t one you expected to see on my blog, but it fits the post perfectly. To see more of Rhonda’s photography, go to her Facebook page by clicking Inspiration Images and Media.

Thank you for the pencil sketch, Abigail Sawyer. Abby is a 16-year-old homeschooler and a self-taught artist whose family realized her talent when she took a painting class. She hopes to attend art school and draw for Disney. To see more of Abby’s artwork, check her out on Instagram @abigails_art13.