Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Is Me a Bad Word?

It's been too long..way too long, since I made decisions based primarily on me. As I write those words, my inner censor is nagging me to evaluate.  Have I ever really made decisions based on what I want before considering others? Well, uh, um.. ( is it possible to stutter when writing?)  probably not so much. 
When I was a kid, I was subtly and not so subtly brainwashed into thinking that anything I did "for me" was a sign of selfishness, weakness, indulgence. It might seem crazy, but in my Italian Catholic family, martyrs were honored. "Look what I gave up to have all of you," my mom said occasionally as she struggled with the responsibility of five kids. I can vividly remember thinking to myself, " Then why didn't you just become a nurse like you wanted?" And, though I felt instantly guilty, the terrible thought was usually piggybacked by, "Then you wouldn't hate us so much."
Don't get me wrong. My mom was a wonderful person, a giving woman with a sarcastic tongue and quick wit; although her exterior was rough, she had a golden heart and a knack for knowing what others needed. She had a reputation far and wide for being one of most thoughtful gift givers around; she had a way of listening and observing so that she could find precisely the best gift for every family member or friend. Christmas has not been the same since my mom died, now over 10 years ago. She was loyal, kind, sharp, generous, but most importantly, she seemed at times like that soft gentle heart had been hardened by disappointments and thwarted goals. She was a creative soul, always starting projects and getting interrupted by caring for others. I'm sure it wasn't easy being her.  Oh, how I can relate.
Now, as an adult, with 2 grown children of my own, a wonderful husband and a profession I love, I must work very hard to listen to my inner voice to know what "I want." Every day I need to quiet myself and evaluate my decisions and where I am prioritizing myself in the list.  In short, I must practice healthy boundaries. It's so easy to say yes, to offer help, and to give so much that there's literally nothing left.  Just like the old adage, "We can't love others until we love ourselves," we certainly can't nourish others until we nourish ourselves.
How do you ensure that you are taking care of yourself and listening to your inner voice? Please share so that we can encourage each other to continue to be loving, giving people who don't end up losing sight of their own dreams.

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