How did my needs get to the bottom of the to-do list?

Days, weeks, months, years and even decades go by when all of a sudden we wonder how did we get to where we are in life. When it seems that we have allowed so much to slip by with little thought. But when we finally get to a place of being able to admit that we are simply unhappy about some things that we may not have taken action on for ourselves, that’s when things begin to change. Personally, I wish I had learned this lesson earlier on in my life.

For most of my adult life but especially since having children I would make long to-do lists and sometimes include things that I wanted to do for myself on there as well. Somehow most of my things didn’t get got crossed off the lists very often. For me being the best Mom meant doing what I was doing for my kids. Never realizing fully the importance of self-care.

I was aware of sayings like …

you can’t give to others if you don’t have it yourself 

put your mask on first, take some oxygen before helping others

… but none of those sayings changed very much for me.

This lesson has taken me an awfully long time to learn. The more I repeated this to-do list pattern over the years, the more I beat myself up for not taking better care of myself and the more it didn’t help my self-worth, the less confidence I had, the weight started to pile on to name a few. In attempts to try to fix what I was not doing for myself I would create lists of all the amazing things I loved doing thinking I could just take that list and pick something daily to do. But I could only mostly dream of doing all these things for myself one day. I was not able to give myself that permission it seemed. But I also knew that this one-day might never come… it wasn’t like someone was going to give it to me… I had to make it happen.

I seem wired to make sure everyone else’s needs get taken care of so that they are happy, healthy and doing well in their life. I always gave the oxygen mask before I ever used it. Somewhere in my life I started not liking myself very much… I felt angry with myself without understanding why… I never felt good enough… I never felt like I was doing enough… yet the only voice I ever heard speaking this was my very own critical voice. Mixed in there was our son’s diagnosis with autism at age 3 and that was a good enough reason to beat myself up even harder. No matter how hard I worked at figuring things out I just could not fix this for him. And my perfectionist self felt defeated. The only way out was to surrender to what was and allow life to unfold exactly has God had intended for him and for me.

Almost a year ago I awoke to another reality check. How I had done things to the best of my abilities for our son’s adult life and taking into consideration of how I felt his adult life should look like, no matter how wonderful and great it looked on the outside it just didn’t sit right with me. I was trying to hold on to how I knew things had been in the past like when he was in school, it was familiar therefore I felt that this was the best option and choice for him. Not. And just because others were doing it this way, it didn’t mean I had to continue. I needed to let go and I knew it. Let go of how I knew things had been. Let go of how I had done things for him for 21 years. Let go of being a control freak and trying to fix every single little thing. I had to learn to let go and trust. I received lots of private coaching from my dear daughter last summer. She knew me better than I did. She could hear my inner voice speaking to me. We talked a lot and it was when she began asking things like how did it feel in my body when I thought of everything I was doing for my son? There was very little that felt good other than I was very proud of myself for everything I had accomplished and put together for him the last few years, but I also knew that this was my ego that was enjoying that ride. It felt like the weight of the world was in my body as I answered her. Then she asked how I envisioned my future as well as my son’s future… and again how did it feel in my body. As soon as I started talking and dreaming of how I could envision my future and even his future, I felt like the weight of the world lift from me. I remember taking a huge exhalation that helped me release what I had held on to for so long. Instantly it was clear to me what I needed to do… and that was listen to my gut feelings and take action from that place of knowing… let go… trust… and have faith. And that is exactly what I did.

I realize today that I have had a very transformative year, one that is not done yet but where I am well on my way to living my life how I saw it unfolding not only for myself, but also for our son and the rest of the family. I am in a place of greater peace and calmness.

Today my to-do lists aren’t as long. More often than not I am crossing off things that I am doing for myself every single day. Heck, it seems that a big part of my day is spent doing things that are simply for myself. I feel almost selfish but I know that I need to allow it as I reconnect with that part of me that is needing love and nourishment at this time. I am learning to let go more. I am learning to say no to everything that no longer resonates with me (no is a new word in my vocabulary). I am learning to say yes to what energizes me. I am able to trust and have faith that our lives will be all that it needs to and so much more because I took the time to care for myself today. Today I choose to create more ripples to send out in the world and somehow know that some of it will come back to nourish my soul. Most of all I am learning to listen to my inner voice which is has wisdom that it wants me to hear and take action with.

I count the days before I am ready to head out for my solitary retreat this month. It will be 5 days of inner transformation, I have no doubt.

My new motto …

For sale on Etsy by Laura Baren

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Comments

  1. There’s something about becoming a mother that puts our lives on the back burner, Suzanne. It’s hard enough when your kids are healthy but throw a disability into the mix and you’re lucky if you can come up for air. But taking that time for yourself, for rediscovering who you are will benefit everyone.

    And you have a very wise daughter 🙂

    • Susan, I’ve come up for air after so many years. It’s incredible what we put ourselves through in order to learn. It’s been quite a journey I must admit but I also see now that things have become so much easier because I’m now allowing it to be. I agree, my daughter is quite wise for her age, an old soul… one who gives her mother incredible insights and so much hope. Thank you for reading and dropping in with a comment. 🙂

  2. Yep, we have a whole lot of similarities in our lives! Nice post and lots to think about!

    • Interesting how many similarities with our lives. Yes there is lots to think about. It helps me tremendously when I write so I can sort it out better. Thanks for dropping in and reading the blog.

  3. Wow. What an incredible daughter you have. So perceptive. She raised all of the right questions. I think we should all be answering these questions for ourselves and hopefully coming out lighter. Super. I loved reading this. Hit home in several ways. Thank you.

    • Like she told me it helped that she was doing career coaching herself at the time… it helped her see things for me that I couldn’t see. And once I realized that I already knew just by how I was feeling, all I needed to do was let go of how things were, trust and just surrender to the whole process while allowing it all to unfold as it needed to… and that is exactly what these last 11 months have been like for me. So happy you enjoyed reading it.

  4. Such a good read and a wise daughter! My mother passed away seven months ago and I’m still figuring out who and what I am, what my needs are, and what makes me happy. (I was her caregiver.) Now I’m discovering a good relationship with my daughter and putting more creative options into my business, The Owl’s Lantern…so good to know I’m not alone in this Search for Self!

    • Hi Sue, I’m so sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. I’m happy that you are discovering a good relationship with you daughter. It sounds like a time of transition for you in discovering more about yourself. Wishing you peace and love in the process. Thank you for dropping in to read my blog post.

  5. Hi Suzanne, I loved your post! And thank you for leaving such a lovely comment on my Remy Rabbit post. Encouragement is always so helpful and needed in order to keep going. I don’t seem to have much trouble saying no, these days. I say, “I can’t, I’m working.” My family laughs and says, “You’re not working, you’re playing. Can we play too?”

    • I say let them laugh… fun is the name of the game. I love your unique creative abilities and what you are doing with it. I’m also very much enjoying what I’m doing these days. Thank you for dropping in and leaving your lovely comment. 🙂

  6. It is so easy to let self-care go to the wayside in the busy-ness of life and so important to bring it back as soon as we realize what has happened. It’s wonderful to see you focusing on your list:)

    • I’m very much enjoying all the self-care these days and having the focus more on myself. Thank you for dropping by to read my blog post Michele.

  7. I SO relate to your fears about your son’s future. My son with Down Syndrome (24) has just moved back home and I’m trying to envision his future, too. And I’m “staying with” my feeli1ngs and waiting for that right place to show itself in the right time. Patience! and self-care

    • Amy I look forward learning from you and your journey with your son. All the best to both of you. And thank you for dropping in to read my blog post. 🙂

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