Here I am sitting in my supervisor’s office one week after my outpatient surgery crying uncontrollably. Despite the pain that I am feeling, my high fever, and my fatigue, the only thing that I can think about is the amount of work that I need to get done before RA training. I feel nothing but guilt despite the heat radiating my body from illness. I have lesson plans to prepare, training presentations to create, and conduct cases to adjudicate. In my mind I am screaming to myself “I need to be here, I need to try and push through this” but my body is silently screaming back to me “No, I need REST”.
How did I get to this point is all I can think about as I finally get home and lay in my bed. I’ve experienced burn out, stress, and anxiety, but never had I reached a point where I was choosing between my personal health and work. Never had I felt guilty for needing to take care of Bobbie. I have always made myself my top priority and this was the first time I was feeling guilty for doing it. My motto was that if I am not at my best, I cannot help someone else to be at theirs. Now as I lay in bed I wonder when this new person took over. Here I was out of fuel and at my breaking point…Alicia Key’s had lied, I was not a superwoman; I needed rest.
Now as I sit here today, feeling much better, healthy in my body, mind, and spirit, I can honestly say that I never want to be at that point again. I have always been an ambitious person, a go-getter some might say, but never had I put my work, my academics, my family, my friends, or anything for that matter before my personal well-being.
As I continue to reflect upon the past few years I have realized that I have consistently been travelling to my “breaking point”. The moment that I had in my supervisor’s office was inevitable. I have been giving little pieces of myself to everyone and everything around me and forgetting to keep something for me. Being in a helping profession I am sure that we all have that characteristic. We are givers, we are doers, we thrive on helping others, but we must remember that we too need help at times. I had forgotten that I could not be all things for all people and that I too needed to be helped.
Today I accept that I am not a superwoman. I am okay with the fact that sometimes I need to relinquish my power and ask for help. I no longer feel guilty for making me a priority. I am neither weak nor incapable because I recognize that I need help and rest. I am healthy, happy, and rested. I have moved past my breaking point and I have filled up my tank.
I encourage you to take some time this week to reflect upon your own personal lives. Are you a giver? Do you give until you are empty? Are you close to a breaking point? Do you need rest? Are you being everything for everyone? If you find yourself answering yes to one or more of those questions, write down a few steps that you can take to fill up your tank and get back to taking care of yourself in the midst of taking care of all those around you.
Remember you can’t take care of anyone else unless you take care of yourself first.