"Tend to your own garden."
~ Voltaire, Candide
Sunday, March 8, 2015
This morning, I was describing how I am struggling right now because some huge stuff is going on, and I feel like I have to take care of everything myself.
My husband, a very smart man (bless him) asked me this: "What if it's not true that you have to take care of everything?" (huge pause) "What if you just think you do?" (another huge pause) "Maybe you sometimes do for others, but they don't really need you to? Or, what if other people can step up?"
JEESH. ( . . . maybe this is really about me? . . .) ouch. (not really--I needed to hear this).
I know for a fact that writing sustains me, and is a means for making sense of my experience and for self-care.
I haven't blogged for awhile, and I need to get back to it. Life has showed up very intensely for the past year or so, and that's been my excuse NOT TO WRITE. Today, I get it that sharing my experiences and perspectives is precisely what I'm supposed to do--ESPECIALLY and PRECISELY when life gets messy. So hear goes . . . about taking care of everything and everybody (which is made up, anyway . . .)
For the past few years, I have been in the process of unpacking a huge epiphany, an operating assumption that so many of us have, which is:
In order to be okay, we need others to be okay first.
It sounds nice to take care of others, but there are string attached, right? When we trying to make other people okay so we can be comfortable, it's a no win setup for everybody. It also prevents us from getting to okay because we're too preoccupied with others to take care of ourselves. Here's how messed up this gets:
- our value is outsourced to others from the outside in, rather than from the inside out
- we are not in touch with what we need because we focus on the needs of others
- we are off the hook for working on our own issues
- as we depend on their comfort for ours, we set up an unrealistic expectation--which is actually pretty manipulating!
- people are robbed of their experiences because of our attempts to micromanage their emotional landscapes
Knowing this on a conscious level is a game-changer for me. It's a tricky balance, knowing when to give, when to receive, and where to focus our attention.
For now, I think I'll be minding to my own business for awhile. I need to make sure I'm okay before I help others, so I'm fully present and available to the people in my life. I think I will spend some time tending to my own garden.