Yesterday in the acupuncturists’ office , I overheard a client state she couldn’t make her next bi-weekly appointment because she had family in town for the holidays. Seeing that type of specialist signifies major discomfort of some kind, possibly even pain. I myself had to get desperate before I would allow someone I didn’t know to stick a bunch of needles into my body! That involves a high level of trust uncommon for me. I didn’t like the fact that she was putting herself on the back-burner, and had a strong urge to tell her. I didn’t think she would care for my inserting my nose into her personal business, and it was also a reminder that her dilemma with family and self-care is a challenge I hear often in Weight Watcher meeting rooms.
Why is it so hard to take care of ourselves when family is around? We put ourselves on the back burner, even though doing so adds even more challenges (and maybe even pounds!) to an already stressful time of year. Everything we have ever learned about success being tied to self-care, has faded away into the background.
Earlier this year I assisted with home hospice for my mother. The first two days after her hospital homecoming, I sat by her side rarely leaving for anything other than a bathroom break. I remember feeling guilty about the possibility of her passing while I was outside enjoying life (how I viewed it, in reality not what she would have thought) by continuing the daily walks I’d grown accustomed too each time I went home. After two days I came to my senses and realized I needed to get back to walking in order to relieve my stress level. My walks weren’t about fun, they were part of the much-needed process of taking care of myself. They allowed time to think clearly and not make important decisions without clarity or from a place of fear, de-stress (as much as I could, given the situation), and recharge. It took my mother 15 days to pass on, and each day I took a 45-1 hour walk and let someone else hold that precious seat next to her. I have no regrets.
I’ve lost and kept off seventy pounds for ten years now. I created a certain level of expectation of self-care in order to stay successful. My family expects me to leave for my walks (and are welcome to come unless they are the ones I need the break from!), my Weight Watcher meetings, or other self-care appointments needed while they are here. If I am visiting I’ve already searched online for the nearest Weight Watcher meeting, market and planned my walking path (as well as informed them) ahead of time. They are aware of my priorities and so am I. That doesn’t mean no one is ever upset because of my decision to take care of myself, nor that it isn’t ever an inconvenience for their timeline. Compromising is key, as well as to command respect for my needs. I finally understood that in order to be successful at any goal, I needed to get comfortable with the uncomfortable and “speak my truth”. The truth is that our relationship has other serious problems that need to be addressed if taking care of myself upsets you.