I’m just going to say this again because it bears repeating: Do not let go of yourself in order to take care of someone else.
Okay, so the world feels like it’s ending. I know it does because I have facebook and I read the news and I’m on this planet. You know what’s happening, so I’m not going to rehash it here. Why? Because it’s too much.
This tender heart of mine can’t take it, and I’m pretty certain if you clicked on this link and you are on this planet, your heart is breaking at least a little bit, too.
Once you’ve decided how you are going to contribute positively to the cause of your choice, (and holy shit, there are a literal million to choose from) it’s important to decide how you are are going to take care of your own life. Because here’s the thing: You can’t let go of yourself to take care of everyone else.
I’m just going to say this again because it bears repeating:
Do not let go of yourself in order to take care of someone else.
At some point, you will be tempted to do this. You will be tempted to not take good care of yourself in order to keep someone else going. There are emergency and unusual situations which might require you to push yourself hard, to deplete those stores you’ve been carefully filling for these extraordinary moments. But this is not a way to live.
I’m going to get all preachy here for a minute because this is important.
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You have immeasurable worth. You have passions and ideas and desires. And you want to help. You want to help so badly that it consumes your thoughts as you fall into a fitful sleep and wake up ready with a heavy heart. You know that your resources are indeed limited, so you make up for it by giving all of you. And maybe you give all of you to your job or your broken partnership or your amazing-but-demanding kids. Maybe you feel like you can’t give yourself anything because you have nothing left.
The hold I had on myself became so loose that I couldn’t tell you the moment I actually let go because I was already a ghost of the person I had been.
Maybe you do and you’re right. There is nothing left to give because you have given yourself up without understanding how much you need you. That’s a wild concept, the one where you need yourself. The one where you matter the most in your own life equation. The one where you have confused your roles in life with actually being in your life, and you need to figure out how to reattach yourself to you.
There have been times in my life when I have had to let go of myself in order to hold onto somebody else. I used to think I had to save the world. If we’re honest here, and we must be, I still feel that way. Especially now. But it crossed the line from giving sacrificially into martyrdom. I dove into an ocean (or two, or twenty) of codependency. The subtle drains of energy that I didn’t care enough to patch up eventually emptied me of my sense of worth. The hold I had on myself became so loose that I couldn’t tell you the moment I actually let go because I was already a ghost of the person I had been.
So, here is how you reattach yourself to you. Close your eyes. See yourself. All the roles you fill, the jobs you have, the ways in which you help the people you love most. Now see the real you. The one who matters because you were born on this planet and breathe this air and that makes you important. Reach out to her. Take her hand. Pull her closer. Pull her so close that you remember the familiarity of her and the sacredness of being alive.
And whatever you do, don’t let her go. Don’t sacrifice her. Take her to work with you, let her read the news with you, parent your children and act as partner to your spouse. She will tell you when you have had enough. She will give you fair warning when it’s time to leave and when you need to disconnect from certain situations and people. The more you honor her, the clearer you will be about what it is that pulls you away from you, and the better you will become at pushing back.
Your life, your being, your presence on this planet matters. Hold on to you, babe.