I can't believe how easy it's become, over my years as a wife and mother, to sacrifice myself for "the greater good". This greater good has come to mean many things. For example, do I wash the dishes or take a shower? Hmmm, it would be selfish to take a shower. Dishes it is! What IS that? Why do we, as women, do this to ourselves? I've spent the better part of two years now trying to break this insane habit, and I'm pleased as punch to report that it finally seems to be working.
Ironically enough I just found my writing time interrupted by a dog who, though she's already been outside once today, began whimpering as if the dam of her bladder were about to burst. True to what I have forced myself to become I found myself getting up from the keyboard to let her out. It IS the greater good, after all, right? Guess what? I STOPPED MYSELF! That's right, folks, I didn't cave in. This is MY writing time. Fifteen minutes out of my morning where I can focus on me and not what everyone else needs. I may have a pouting pooch now, but by golly gee she can wait.
Things are definitely changing for the better in my mind. It's no longer a struggle to choose to wash my face, brush my teeth, exercise, and eat breakfast before doing chores. I can see now that the chores will still be there when I'm done, and that I will be better off physically, emotionally, AND spiritually for taking care of myself. The chores will actually go by quicker, as I'm not bogged down by anxiety that I tell myself I have no clue where it comes from. If I'm brutally honest with myself I can admit that the anxiety has always been caused by my conscience telling me that I'm ignoring something very important.
It's not all kicks and giggles, though. It's hard on me to focus on myself. I've always been one to try to please others. The simple truth is that I'm having to learn, on hurdle at a time, that pleasing myself is just as important. If someone else has to wait a little longer than they'd like for me to finish something for them? It just has to be that way. I know this. Really, I do. The guilt that I feel, though, isn't diminished by that knowledge. I've spent so much of my life being Little Miss Eager to Please that it's very difficult to switch my way of thinking. I have to, though. Because the fact is that this "greater good" I've used to deny myself for all of these years? Yeah. It's not what I thought it was. Turns out it was just a one way ticket to martyrdom. A place where I sacrifice everything about me to soothe my own feelings of guilt, all the while creating a league of greedy monsters in my life who think that my only function is to produce for them. I've created a life where I exist solely for the use of others.
So what now? An inch at a time. Slowly clawing my way through the ridiculous restrictions I've buried myself in. Demanding that I give myself what has been so freely given to others for much too long. Remembering what a kick ass gal I was before I gave myself over to martyrdom, and keeping my inner eye on that goal when it would be oh-so-much easier to give in and not face the spoils of what I've created in the world around me. I'll do it, no doubt about that. And I'm absolutely positive that, once I get there, that I'll never leave again.