I have quite a few friends who have recently admitted online to feeling overwhelmed, stuck, or simply tapped out. They want nothing more than to curl up with their kids, absorb that love and energy and maybe binge on Netflix for a change. For some of them, these symptoms are manifesting into physical ailments. Maybe it is a migraine, or an auto-immune disorder. Maybe it is a cough or a pain in their chest that isn’t quite serious enough to have them in line at the ER.
For me, a handful of years ago – this exact same series of emotions and physical pain (that I ignored for months because I had ‘so much to do’) bit me. And hard.
Yep, you read that correctly, I legitimately broke my face. And it was a direct result of the overwhelm, of the constant go-go-go, the unwillingness to stop and take care of myself in any capacity. I was left with a fractured cheekbone that left me with a visible reminder of my lack of care for a solid 6 weeks.
At that time, I spoke to two different people about my situation. One: my doctor. She’d always been someone I could trust and she had some serious advice for me. The other? My therapist. She too, offered words of wisdom I can still hear today if I close my eyes and embrace the silence.
My doctor’s story – “Danielle, moms are like boats. If they spring a leak…..if there is a hole in that boat, it MUST be repaired. Otherwise, she will take everyone down with her.” This was her way of telling me that I am no good to anyone – not to my family, not to my friends or colleagues – if I am not doing ANYTHING to care for myself.
My therapist took a bit of a different route, though her goal was the same. She looked at me and said, “Danielle, if Delaney (my daughter) sat down in front of you and shared how she felt – and it mirrored how you feel right now – what would you say to her? Would you tell her to ‘power through’? Would you tell her if she can just work her tail off and allow her battery to die – for just the next few weeks – it will all feel fine? Or would you take care of her?
Let’s be honest – you’d lock her in her room, snuggle up on the bed with her and force her to watch Winnie the Pooh until her heart, mind and head felt right with the world again.
Treat Yourself as You Would Treat Your Daughter (or son).
I will say it again: treat yourself with the same love, affection and kindness you would treat those small people of yours.
You deserve it.
I’m not saying it’s easy. In fact, I regularly fail in this department, but I always try to keep the advice close to heart (especially since hitting 40). For the past few years, it has been a light and guide for me. Sometimes that light is faint, but it is still there to remind me that, not only do I need to take care of myself, but I deserve it.
And friends, you do too. Take the time you need. The work will still be there when you are feeling stronger.