A Love Letter for YOU with hindsight wisdom from my Mama-Bear Self…
I have a vivid memory of a long ago moment in my therapist’s office. We’d nearly reached the end of our session. (I wonder if she’s still a therapist?)
My husband and I were neck-deep in raising our five--with an unexpected plot twist in the sudden, unexpected death of my seemingly-healthy, beloved Dad. (Oh, and my full-time job meant some traveling around North America to speak and facilitate–but that’s beside the point here.)
Back to therapy. Phew. Apparently, in that day’s therapy session I’d been talking a lot about being heavy-hearted and weighed down with the burdens and/or miseries of my people. As I shared each one’s unhappiness or struggles or hard realities, their pain and suffering and agendas began to leak from my eyes.
Being the brilliant therapist I knew her to be–she sat quietly holding the space for my tears and grief and “all the things.” I stopped talking and sat in silence.
“Well. You must be exhausted.” More silence, more leaking from my eyes. “That feels like a lot of responsibility you’re carrying around for others, doesn’t it?”
And because I’d come to trust her, she named a label that likely fit me: “Overly responsible.” Wow. Holy sh*t. Fit me like a glove.
What about you? What if you’re living your days being “overly responsible?”
What if you’re taking on the responsibility for everyone else’s well-being and contentment and joy?
Life Commandment #8: Be Mama Bear First To Myself
“Be Mama Bear first for yourself.” It’s my Life Commandment #8, and sounds like a given. You and I talk about taking care of ourselves, prioritizing ourselves and making sure we’re getting the occasional R&R or a day/weekend away.
Yet I’m curious what it would be like to wake up every single morning and FIRST take responsibility for your own well-being. (Even if you have your littles or teens or partners or friends knocking on your literal or metaphorical bathroom door.) Let’s call it “Self-First Responsibility.”
What if YOUR own physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual well-being is your highest priority?
Being responsible first to yourself doesn’t mean… that you’re not able to be Mama Bear for someone you love. But it does mean… that YOU being an effective support and fierce advocate for your people DEPENDS ON YOU FIRST being a badass support and fierce advocate for your own well-being.
Oh my. Don’t get me started on the many many messed-up messages and patterns that contribute to our being “overly responsible.” More love letters to come…
Post Script From Mama Bear
P.S. Our five amazing grown adult children (hello oxymoron!) remind me every day. Even when they were littles, each wanted to find and choose their own path (cue the “strong-willed child” term x 5). Wish I could introduce you to these five completely responsible, awesome, loving, adventurous and resilient adults.