Prioritizing You Doesn’t Bode Well for Me

The news outlets are peppered with updates and warnings about the severity of this year’s flu season. It has become an epidemic and impacted thousands of lives across the country. I have heard of schools that have been closed for days because of the flu. I know numerous people who have been afflicted by it this year, including a family member who lives in my home. (This person was immediately quarantined to their room and instructed to text if they needed anything. IF they did venture out of their room, they were followed around by Lysol spray & Clorox wipes. I was not playing around. YUCK!) It can really take you out; the body aches, fever, chills, sinus congestion and coughing, low energy, no stamina. It is not pretty.
I believe there is another illness effecting our health and well-being. You’ve heard me talk about this “disease” before, I’ve coined it the “Caregivers Curse”. Its symptoms are somewhat similar to the flu in that you may have low energy or no stamina and/or limited motivation. The difference is these symptoms usually take a long time to present themselves. So you may not notice you’ve been infected for quite some time. But eventually, like all illnesses, it will reveal itself and impact how you feel.
As an “in-recovery codependent” I am starting to become astute in detecting these symptoms in myself and beginning to see them in others. I even have a small support group of friends who are also “in-recovery”. We are working on and learning the same thing. This lesson comes down to this, when I prioritize someone other than myself it doesn’t bode well for me. Putting others’ needs ahead of your own is sometimes necessary, but having that consume the way you live can have negative effects. Now, what I know is that I love to give to people. I am wired to think of others and to consider how to make them feel loved or important or thought of or special. It’s something I value and like about myself. But what I don’t like about myself is when I do that to my detriment. When I do so much for others that I neglect myself, I feel depleted and become resentful (prickly). I am learning to find the balance and speak up, to say my truth about how much I can do or cannot do within those boundaries. It’s the “S” in S.L.O.W. (Stick to your values) AND it is also the “L” in S.L.O.W. (Love yourself then others). It can be so freeing.
Life and the people in our lives can be demanding. It can feel like we are being pulled in a million directions with expectations and deadlines piling up all around us. This happens in our personal and professional lives. Families and children have needs, simultaneously, coworkers, bosses, and students ( if you are an educator) also have requests and expectations. It can be overwhelming. How can we stop that flurry? (I call it “spin”). It may feel impossible to put yourself first when the ungraded papers are flying and family members are calling and emails are buzzing. But I’m here to tell you it can be done. Prioritize you. See your value and stick to it.
I have found as I’ve been testing this theory and practicing setting boundaries that when I take a moment to step away from what seems like a situation that “only I” can resolve, I am able to find another solution that doesn’t involve me or as much of my time/energy OR even better the situation resolves itself. So maybe I don’t have to always be the “superhero”?!? Furthermore, when I step back it allows for others to step up. Which means, while I’m growing (in self-care) others are growing as well.
Perhaps really what I should potentially be saying instead is “prioritizing you doesn’t bode well for me….or you”. Let’s not rob ourselves (or others) of what we (and they) need. We should be intentional about how we spend our time and what we prioritize in our day to day lives. I hope this will allow them to be less hectic and full of more joy and peace. I recently realized that I should put in as much effort to inoculate myself from this Caregivers Curse as I did into keeping my house germ-free from the flu. Let’s keep washing our hands, covering our cough in our elbows and putting ourselves first. Here’s to a healthy you!