A few weeks ago, I started working with a physical therapist. Here’s how our first conversation went:
Her: “I see you are here because your back is bothering you. Have you ever been to physical therapy before?”
Her: “How long have you been in pain due to your back?”
Me: “Ummmm, let me think about it. About fourteen years.”
Her: “You have been in pain for fourteen years and you are just coming to physical therapy now? What have you been doing for the past fourteen years?”
Me: “Taking my kids to their activities and popping Advil.”
Her: “That’s really sad.”
I left that physical therapy session feeling really embarrassed and somewhat ashamed of myself. Most of my time is spent guiding women into lives of power, happiness, and self care and here I was having spent fourteen years in a sufficient amount of pain. All three of my children have had physical therapy and I drove them to 90% of those appointments, yet I was never able to find time to bring myself to an appointment? The therapist was right, that’s really sad.
I’ve been irresponsible to the most important person in my life: myself.
I’m not sure if misery loves company, but I do know that I’m not alone in this self-denial doom loop. I’ve heard plenty of other mothers in similar situations. That, however, does not make my lack of self-care any better and certainly not worthy of prideful boasting on how tough I have been. I haven’t been tough. I’ve been irresponsible to the most important person in my life: myself.
As a role model, I’ve taught my children how to put absolutely everyone before themselves and how to suffer physically because of it. I am dutifully ashamed of myself and didn’t even realize how wrong I was until I uttered the words, “Fourteen years.” Yet how many of us say we will take care of ourselves physically and emotionally when our kids get older, or when our parents are gone or when our spouses retire? When no one else needs us anymore, then we will take care of ourselves. What ridiculous nonsense that is.Women were not born to be martyrs for our families or for society. #selflove Click To Tweet
Ultimately the blame of this fourteen-year avoidance is my own, but I didn’t do it alone. How often does our society honor women who have given up “everything” for their children? How often are women glamorized for forsaking their own goals for those of their family? Women who prioritize all others over themselves are honored and glorified in our society, while men are often recognized for their individual strengths and accomplishments.
It’s time for all of us to rewrite that script. Women were not born to be martyrs for our families or for society. We are entitled to full and healthy lives as individual people and not just as mothers and wives. Trust me, there is no glory in putting oneself last in order to raise others up. If we don’t all rise together, have any of us really risen?
You should take care of yourself for you and absolutely no one else!
You might think that this would be a good time for me to mention that we should take care of ourselves for the sake of our children, but I’m going to call foul on that idea as well. You should take care of yourself for you and absolutely no one else! You as a worthy, productive, wonderful member of society deserves to be cared for and healthy just like everyone else. Don’t wait fourteen years to do it. Start today.
Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. PCC
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Smart Women, Inspired Lives: How to Be Happy & Confident
by Dr. Lisa Kaplin
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About Lisa Kaplin, Psy. D, PCC
Certified Life Coach and Psychologist at Smart Women Inspired Lives.
I’m the proud owner of Smart Women Inspired Lives, where I help overwhelmed and exhausted women move from the feeling of being “stuck” into a life filled with calm, confidence, and joy. In addition to the posts and articles I write, I offer individual and group life coaching sessions, classes and speaking engagement opportunities.
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|When the Kids Leave, Who Are We?||The Perfect Family|
|When the Kids Leave, Who Are We?|
|The Perfect Family|