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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Taking care of yourself: why it's not selfish to love yourself first




The past month has been a difficult one for me.  Some of which I will share here, some of which I won't.

The part I will share: My dad has Parkinson's and he is at a late stage.  He has lost the ability to eat by mouth, he has lost so much weight, he has lost almost all ability to take care of himself.  I've had to make DNR type decisions for him and put him on hospice.  To a lesser extent I've had to deal with family drama which is typical when multiple siblings are are involved.  As his POA, I've had to do what I think is best.  As he did not leave a living will, I've had to try to figure out what he would want and/or what is best for him.  Anyway, very depressing and definitely no fun.  After losing my mom last July, I'm starting to feel parent-less.  I've had a few other lesser things weighing on my mind too.  Some of which had got me down.

Anyway, I wasn't feeling my lovable self.   My girlfriend had noticed that too.  I've heard you have to love yourself first before you can love another.  There were days in which I felt like I wasn't throwing out as much warmth as she was.  I felt kind of bad about this and my instinct was what's wrong?

Within the past week, the cloud started lifting, part of which is my dad seems to have stabilized.  Also, I've come to better terms with his imminent passing.  The upbeat nature and warmth came out of hiding.   She noticed that.  I had noticed my capacity for warmth had diminished temporarily. but now that the clouds are lifting, I am back to my usual warm. My realization: if you don't take care of your own needs, up to and including feeling good about yourself,  you will not be in the position to love another the way you should.   She had been through her own losses fairly recently too, so God blessed me with someone who understands all this.

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A side note, I previously had dated someone who had had her life collapse about her.  Instead of facing the demons, she sought a distraction in relationships.  I came to realize she didn't love me so much as she loved the distraction.   She was using the relationship as a means to find love for herself rather than processing and looking inward and seeing herself as having inherent God-given value.  Whenever my life needs would pull me away from seeing her, she'd take it personally.  She'd let me know that "she wasn't a priority".   I realized that to her I was part of a 2D vs. 3D relationship,

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I guess my takeaways are this:

  • Be kind to yourself and take care of your own self-needs and you will be in the best position to give to another.
  • A supportive significant other will not try to 'fix' your problems/concerns, but will be there for you.  He/she will be there for you through the good and rough patches.
  • In healthy relationships, each partner understands the ebbs and flows in the other's life and doesn't personalize them.