This post was originally written on 29 January 2016 and I’ve been mulling over whether to publish it since then.
Yesterday, as the kids slept in the car, I drove to maintain that moment’s quiet and considered why I was hesitating to publish. I am always so proud of my childrens’ and my husband’s achievements and would shout them from the rooftops if I could, but why do I feel so uncomfortable sharing a small win of my own? Albeit not from a rooftop but on this little blog?
And then I thought about how often we, as carers, push ourselves to the back of the queue. And by ‘carers’, I am referring to those of us who care about and for anyone in our lives. Be it a parent or grandparent, sibling, friend, partner, child or anyone who we lovingly and willingly devote emotional and physical energy to. Why are we so quick to dismiss our own needs? Is it easier to care outwards than to look within and acknowledge what it is that we truly need. Caring for others is a beautiful act, but we have to be concious that it is not at the expense of caring for ourselves which, ultimately, will be to the detriment of those we care for.
So for that reason and as a reminder to my future self who may fall back into old habits and, unnoticed, slip further and further down the priority list, I’ve decided to share how the first 28 days of 2016 shifted my view on the importance and happy consequence of taking care of me.
29 January 2016
On 31 December 2015, I made a decision for me. Just me. I signed up for a 28 day challenge that would “challenge you to change. Let this change transform your habits, and let your habits transform your existence.” It would cover training (when do I have time to train), nutrition (do McDonald’s drive through lattes count), sleep (ha ha), stress (no comment) and mindset (speak to my therapist).
This is it. For all the reasons in brackets above, this 28 day challenge was exactly what I needed. I signed up, paid my money and committed to the next 28 days.
And then it hit me… What have I done? I have signed up for something that costs actual money, money that I should spend on groceries or kids clothing or therapy for H.
Weekday training sessions are at 6am which means J will be dressing and feeding the kids breakfast by himself.
I’ll be going to bed earlier so there’ll be less time at night for me to pay bills, work, research, blog, liaise with therapists and the other trillion things on my never-ending to do list.
I’ll be focusing personal energy on me in an attempt to get fitter and stronger when I am still healing from the sudden changes to H’s physical ability and only want to focus on encouraging him.
But that was 28 days ago…
28 days ago I had forgotten the emotional strength that can be found in physical strength.
28 days ago I didn’t respect the resolve of my willpower to change my habits.
28 days ago I didn’t understand that putting me first put everyone I care for first too.
Every day during the challenge, I exhaled my fear, anger, guilt and misplaced feelings of selfishness into my notebook. Every day I wrote down my cathartic stream of conciousness. For 28 days.
Last night I re-read the words I had scrawled on day 1 of the challenge by that 28-days-ago me and I cried big, silent tears.
Oh, how wrong she was.
My decision to do something for me wasn’t selfish, shallow, superficial or any other fear-laden word my mind had conjured up. Yes, there were physical changes that I can see and that I feel good about. But the real changes run far deeper than that. In fact, it may have been a life-changing 28 days for me.
I am stronger and fitter now which has improved by capability and motivation to encourage, strengthen and support H.
Allowing J to take the reins was empowering for him and liberating for me. I can let go of my self-determined tight grip on our lives for a moment and everything will be fine.
I chose to believe in me. After choosing to love and care outwards only for so long, I chose to redirect some of that energy inwards. And that choice has increased my capacity to love, nurture and nourish my family.
I was not the only beneficiary of the last 28 days, my family were too.