Many, many years ago, a dear friend of mine, perhaps about ten years older
than I, said in conversation (about what, is now forgotten)something her
grandfather told her.
"AFTER ME, YOU FIRST." I remember thinking to myself, "how selfish, oooh, I
could NEVER think that way!" Of course I probably didn't say it outloud,
merely smiled and nodded my head in agreement.
It took quite a few years, a lot of "growing up" and much heart-ache before
I finally understood what that phrase meant.
See, so many of us grow up and for reasons of our own, learn to put everyone
else first. It might be because of a need to belong, to be liked, it might
be the result of some religious affiliation or perhaps a moral code that was
passed along from your parents. The causes are too numerous to even guess
at... but somehow or another many of us find ourselves totally emeshed in
another persons, life, business, behavior, well-being, etc... again the list
goes on. Often times the emeshment becomes so severe that their "end" and
our "beginning" becomes fused and we LOSE the person we are. Eventually
regardless of the way this came about, the reason becomes secondary and this
becomes a way of life for us. EVERYTHING is done FIRST for EVERYBODY other
than ourselves. Usually by time it gets to be our turn, we are so exhausted,
spent, resentful, drained, depressed, that our turn gets totally overlooked.
Sometimes a person is aware that they are putting everyone first, and are
even proud of the fact that they are able to do this. Other times people do
it without even being aware that THEY also have a "turn".
You'll often see it with the death of a spouse or when the "last" child has
finally left home. Whether it be mom or dad, widow or widower...the question
echoes loudly through the house,"WHO AM I"???????
So much time and so much energy has been given to the others that there has
never been anytime left to "develope" or "devote" to "WHO I AM"! It was once
said to me, "It's funny, I don't even know what my favorite color is, I can
tell you my husbands favorite color, and the kids they like..." This woman
had no idea what color was her favorite.
"I'm too tired cooking what everyone else likes, I'm too tired to make
something special for myself. Besides I'll just eat what they eat, I like to
see THEM enjoy their food." HOW MANY TIMES I have heard that remark. Perhaps
the woman was hoping for a "pat on the back", she probably never expected a
reply like, "WHAT ABOUT YOU, What about what YOU like, what about what"s
SPECIAL TO YOU ????? One woman burst out crying after that question, "no one
ever asked ME, what I liked, I DON'T EVEN KNOW! Imagine her shock when
instead of sympathy I asked, "AND WHAT ABOUT
YOU, WHY DIDN'T YOU ASK YOURSELF????
We don't know, we don't ask ourselves what we like, what we NEED, we just go
on & on & on, taking care of everyone else, or taking care of every ones
business but our own.
Again, I repeat the story of the flight attendant who instructs parents on
the plane... "IN THE EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY, YOU MUST PUT THE OXYGEN MASK ON
YOURSELF FIRST! New "flyers" sitting there with a child on their lap or next
to them are often horrified, I COULDN'T, what about my child!!!
WHAT ABOUT IF YOU PASS OUT, how much help will you be to that child then!
"AFTER ME, YOU FIRST"!
Even under those extreme conditions! Even if the child appears to be at
risk, YOU FIRST!
Okay, so you're overweight, got a bunch of kids, a loving husband or wife
AND you would do ANYTHING to make them HAPPY and their lives more
comfortable. YOU WOULD DO ANYTHING OTHER THAN taking the time YOU need to
get HEALTHY... BODY, MIND & SPIRIT How does it make sense to want your child
to enjoy their favorite dinner but be overweight with high blood pressure,
or high blood sugar, or a family history of heart disease. Yes, fixing
dinner might be a whole lot easier that "changing YOUR eating habits" but it
doesn't do anything to get you "healthier". It might be the kids, the
spouse, the significant other,or a parent, regardless WHO it might be. NOT
ONE OF THOSE RELATIONSHIPS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TAKING CARE OF YOU! After
all, if your care for them is so important, important enough for you to
ignore yourself, how can you risk NOT BEING HERE TO CONTINUE THE JOB.
What works on one hand as an justification to NOT take care of YOURSELF at
the same time is the absolute MOTIVATION TO take care of yourself. The
reason the parent ultimately decides to put the mask on themselves first is
to save the child!
"AFTER ME, YOU FIRST!
We must learn what our favorite color is, and what makes us happy. We must
MAKE THE TIME FOR OURSELVES to be important, to buy the foods we need or
want to eat,
to go to a meeting if that's what we need to do.
After the diagnosis of MS, and having to leave behind all of the things,
functions, jobs, affliations that I was sure WOULD COME TO NO GOOD END... I
quickly learned, "that life goes on!" and the most important thing I found
out is, "God doesn't HURT one person to HELP another!
So IF you decide to go to that meeting, because you need it...everything
will be okay, even if your spouse has to eat a T.V.dinner, they'll survive!
And that friend of yours that wanted to go out to lunch, will "get over it"
if you take a raincheck!
"AFTER ME, YOU FIRST"!
And, one last thing, "WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR?!?
MURRIKAT