When we think of being healthy, we tend to always focus on our bodies. We focus on our weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and the amount of time we spend exercising. But there is much more to being healthy.
A healthy mind and spirit have a direct connection to how healthy our bodies are. The “health” of our relationships affects our mind and our spirits, thus affecting our bodies.
The most important human relationship we have is the relationship we have with ourselves. So often, though, we put our needs and wants on the backburner. We give and give to our own detriment and before you know it, we are totally depleted with nothing else to give.
For many years, I put myself on the backburner, and I did it quite willingly. I was busy raising my children and taking care of our home. I was so busy, I did not even have time to recognize that I was running out of steam. I gained weight. I stopped exercising. I stopped socializing with my friends because I was so busy being the perfect mom. I saw my sacrifice as love, and I had no idea the damage that love was doing.
When my children were grown, I suddenly found myself looking in the mirror at this fat lady I didn’t know. Who was she? What did she want? What did she enjoy doing? What did she despise doing? I didn’t even know this person staring back at me. I didn’t know what her favorite music was or her favorite movie. I didn’t know what clothing style she preferred. I didn’t know much about her at all.
I had neglected myself for everyone else, and I had done it out of my love for them thinking it was the right thing to do. When I looked in the mirror, however, and saw this person who had neglected her health in every aspect, I felt sad. I suddenly felt as if my life had no purpose or meaning. I felt like an empty shell. I knew that in order to regain my health, I was going to have to find myself again. And it seemed like a daunting task.
For so long, all of my conversations with people had been in regard to my children and their activities. Once that was gone, people started asking me about myself. How do you explain to people that you don’t know how you’re feeling…that you don’t know what your favorite movie is…or know who your favorite musical artist is? When someone would ask what I enjoy doing, I would be tongue-tied. I simply didn’t know. I was a stranger to myself.
I knew I had some work to do, and I have to admit that at first it was extremely uncomfortable. When you’re used to doing for others all the time, to do for yourself feels a tad selfish…(actually a LOT selfish). Other people don’t quite know how to react either. Suddenly the person who has always been around is doing things for herself, and those who have come to depend on you feel a bit out of sorts.
I remember I started my search for myself by attending a support group. It was a time commitment, and it was something I was unwilling to miss. Before long, those who were accustomed to me always being available knew not to ask for help on certain days at a certain time. Mom has to go to her meeting would be a commonly heard saying.
Before long, everyone knew that I would be taking an hour out of every day to go for a walk, and that it would not be interrupted with anything other than an emergency. In order to make people understand, I had to show them it was a priority in my life.
As I began to feel better about myself, I began to do more things that I truly enjoyed. I took time to read and listen to music, to sing and garden and play with my dog. I took more time to write. Recently I’ve started doing some photography and finding the creative aspects in that.
As I have come to know myself, I feel so much happier and fulfilled as a person. Those who love me can see the difference in me and they respect and appreciate those changes.
As a result of those changes I made, my physical health has very much improved. I have lost weight..(with still some left to go). I eat healthier and exercise more, and I enjoy taking care of myself. It no longer seems like a chore.
My advice to those of you who read this is do not wait. It is never too late to take care of yourself. If you’re a stay at home mom who gives 100% of yourself to your family, you will run out of anything to give after awhile unless you find a way to replenish yourself. Loving yourself is one of the greatest gifts that you can ever give to your family. I regret having not done that all of the years my children were growing up. I believe they would have had a much more interesting mother…a happier mother if I had done that.
Thank goodness I finally discovered the joy in loving myself..