choosing yourself isn’t selfish


michelle cruzWritten by Michelle Cruz

Choosing yourself isn’t selfish


What it’s like to choose yourself 

For a long time in my life, I did everything I could to help everyone but myself. Relentless in my giving, I would put my own needs behind everyone around me, supporting them in every way possible. Spending hours of my life supporting a friend to make sure she got the best possible employment with a killer resume. Tirelessly spending hours as an older daughter helping wherever I was needed. Filling all needs for comfort, food, cleaning, advice, and more. No one stepped in and told me to think about what I wanted in my life. 


It wasn’t until I was way into my late 20s that I began to realize I needed to look into who I was and begin to choose myself.

I hit what I was calling “ functionally depressed” and then that quickly turned into a depression that took my passion, love, and energy out of my life. It was like rolling a boulder down a hill, as I started rolling in my depression I grabbed up all my childhood trauma, my lack of care for myself, and years of untreated trauma. It was sucking my personality from me and daily tasks became monotone. I was going through the motions of life without enjoying any of it. Masking my joy for others so I seemed great and happy but I was dying inside. Not a single person outside of my husband knew I was hurting so badly. 


It was a long process that required therapy, long talks with my spouse, and time honestly spent thinking about who and what I wanted to be. I found I needed to create a few basic ground rules for my life that would support not only my own personal growth but the survival of my mental health. 


Rest is required! 

So many times, what kept me pushing was I saw that if I did XYZ for someone they would be able to rest and take what they needed from me. I never considered how I needed rest and I needed to care for myself. Whenever I am feeling pushed, frustrated, or irritated I look and see what I need, and 9 times out of 10 it’s rest. This was the hardest thing to recognize. I had to build an internal meter. Just like how the power company measures how much energy is consumed in a house I use the Spoonie Method. I watch my body and emotions and if there is a risk of running out of “ spoons” I stop myself and reflect if the next action will add to my life or take away from what I really want to do. My husband takes on tasks for me ( often without me asking or mentioning the need) that I otherwise would do. Dinners, car rides for the children, and providing space for me to rest and recuperate from my stress.  


Doing something that fills my cup! 

For some, self-care looks like a walk in Target or painting a picture these could be work or chorelike to others. I say do something that fills you up. For me, it’s filling my brain with knowledge. As a lifelong learner,  I will often choose research while listening to some sci-fi. Watching course material and taking notes on my passion has given me so much time to quiet my mind. Picking up my favorite set of markers and drawing up a new picture for my walls. Taking time to do a task that is only for me and my enjoyment is essential. 


Remembering that taking time for myself isn’t selfishTaking time to be yourself and care for yourself apart from other life titles is important! Wife, Mother, Parent, Student, Teacher, Worker, Employee, etc., are all facets of the self. We can be all of those titles and also be a painter, lover, crafter, builder, reader, and more! It’s just as important to connect with the parts of ourselves that exist just for us as much as we connect with the parts that exist in our connection to others. This took time for me to adjust and to see that my personal need for a time helps the whole family. 

The guilt came in waves the first few times I took time for myself to ponder my emotions. I took time and journaled and spent hours with my therapist talking about this. I took a lot of time to look at the guilt and shame that I experienced. The realization is that the standards that were set up in this world were not ment for me to exist in joy. They were set up to create stress, burnout and unfairness.


This takes time

Please know that this is not a fast process and however long it takes it the exact right time for you. It took me so long to charge of my life. This takes time and it creates intrapersonal work. On this journey be easy on yourself. The biggest part of all of this is to keep choosing yourself when your body, mind, and heart are looking for connection, love, and even peace. 


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