It begins with the realization that we are separate from our mothers. And then, slowly, year by year, lesson by lesson, experience by experience, we come to understand that every action has a reaction. We can then choose to become more empathetic, more connected to, more concerned about the well-being of others, more mindful of what we do to those around us. Or, we can choose to ignore. To remain the center. To cast pain out into the world like a mindless stone tossed into the ocean, not paying any mind to where it might land.
Yet there is also a point in life that is oftentimes reached rather slowly, in which we begin to figure out that all of this radiating and rippling, all of the concern about the circles moving outward and away from us, are also taking us too far away from our own center. For me, the epiphany behind this idea has taken years. Ten years of sharing my own body with four special beings taught me that my own body's needs were secondary to the needs of the little body that I was nurturing. I was either pregnant or both nursing and pregnant for ten years straight. And although the results were my four perfect, beautiful Angel Daughters, there was a certain price for me to pay. And as I chose to spend my days mothering those four incredible souls, putting their absolute immediate needs before my own and forgetting my own spirit in the process, I suddenly learned that I was about as far from the center of the universe as one could possibly be. It was not as if I woke up on one particular morning and realized that my life was out of balance. The process was slow. And as I disregarded the signs(my own deteriorating health, a HUGE one), I lost touch with me. I witnessed my four healthy children standing outside of my immediate circle, growing into amazing young women and then I looked back and observed one ill, out-of-sorts, somewhat angry, but very altruistic(somewhat in congruent with angry) individual who was falling apart at the seams.(Cue-Deep breath)
So now what? It was not yesterday that I got to this point. It has been years of ill-health, one-sided friendships that sucked the life out of me, unhealthy relationships with family members and people I considered family members(until my brother suddenly died and I was left standing in a tiny pocket of six at his funeral), and a good amount of disregard for my own feelings to get me to the point that I am now. But I am here and I made it here with the help of my incredible husband, our four daughters, my furry and feathery family members and a very good pain therapist. I am also here because of the very kind words and actions of fantastic individuals whom I have come to know through the blessing of this blog, many of whom I now consider my very dear friends.
It is not without a certain amount of joyful buoyancy, that I have reached a place around midway(God willing) through my life when I realize that you do not have to begin your caring at the very outer banks of the circle(people you might not really like at all, but who you feel sorry for in a way), working your way back inward and finally reaching the self.(If there is anything left.) I have given myself permission to care for myself, to pray for myself, to acknowledge myself...First. Because if we do not concede to our own needs first, eventually, we will run out of rocks in which to create those loving ripples back out into the world. And truly, if we don't show care for ourselves, it is very difficult for anyone else to put our needs at a very high place on their lists.
May you always remember that what you allow for yourself is as important as what you allow for the world. May you find a way to fill your pockets with whatever it is that creates the ripples from your heart. And may you recognize your own Center...And honor it. Because that is truly where it all begins.