The worst moments in my life have left scars not visible to the naked eye. They rest on my heart. I do not talk about them often because it feels tender to touch them. But looking back, I smile. Not at the memories themselves, but the moments I grew, the lessons I learned, and the times I decided that my personal health and well-being needed to come first.
Personal Life Lesson
I have suffered from depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. Most people in my life did not even know that there were aches inside. I did not want them to. It took everything in my power to make sure they never noticed the sorrow I carried.
One of my techniques was through humor. I always tried to make everyone around me laugh. When their faces lit up with unrestrained joy, I felt a spark of their happiness in my chest.
I supported others and did what I could to shoulder their burdens even though I struggled to carry my own. I gave and gave until my back broke (figuratively, of course), and even then, I did my best to give more.
It was killing me. The worst part was that I did not even notice until it nearly did.
My counselors told me that it was okay to give and help others as long as I remembered to put myself on that list. It did not register at first… that I was not caring for myself at the level I cared for others.
A moment came where I stopped dead in my tracks because I had done it again… I gave and found that once again I had nothing.
The moment was so incredibly simple and small in comparison to others. A friend was in a financial bind. He needed new tires for his vehicle. He vowed to pay me back. The words of “pay you back” never registered with me. I was not going to track what my friends might owe because I was always giving… Some “friends” took advantage of that knowledge.
He never did pay me back. In fact, after that realization in the next session with my counselor, I knew the friendship had to end.
Practicing this kind of self care took time, but I have learned. The times I stood up for myself are my favorite memories. I said NO to situations that would leave me empty and YES to quality time spent tending to my needs.
I am a giver at heart and always will be, but when I put my foot down, know there is a damn good reason.