Breaking free and overcoming feelings of betrayal to a family system and to the role that became our identity can feel like we are suffocating. In our need to “breathe” we may find ourselves drawn to the familiar in an attempt to fill the “vacuum” created by disengaging. In our uncomfortability we may find ourselves being driven by our need to manage the unmanageable. If we do not engage, we may be told that we are selfish or uncaring. With this message, we may forget to take care of ourselves as though we do not matter anyway.
In the process of disengaging and breaking free I need to remember the below realization.
When traveling on airplanes a familiar instruction is given by flight attendants,” In the event that pressure with in the cabin changes oxygen masks become available. Make sure to put the mask on yourself, before attempting to help anyone else”. These instructions are given to passengers to stress the importance of taking care of themselves before attempting to take care of anyone else. The reality of this illustration is that if we are not getting oxygen first, we will not be able to help anyone, including ourselves.
In this illustration, I am reminded that if I do not first take care of myself, I will be no good to anyone. With this awareness, I am reminded that by practicing healthy self-care, I empower my relationships. Through being self-caring I am able to both respect myself and other people. Through being self-caring, I am able to honor my needs. Through being self-caring, I am able to honor and respect both my and other people’s needs. Through being self-caring, I am able to keep my motives pure, while respecting other people’s boundaries. Through being self-caring, I am able to keep the focus on myself, instead of expecting other people to meet my needs.
Through being self-caring, I am able to ask for what I need. Through being self-caring, I am able to be honest with myself. Through being self-caring, I am able to understand where other people end and I begin, and where I end and other people begin. Through being self-caring, I am able to be more aware when relationships are becoming unhealthy and enmeshed. Through being self-caring, I am able to recognize when I am practicing codependency in a relationship, in an attempt to get other people to do for me what I need to do for myself. Through being self-caring, I am able to practice personal responsibility, while giving people the dignity to meet or ask to have their needs met in the relationship.
“I think one of the defining moments of adulthood is the realization that nobody’s going to take care of you. That you have to do the heavy lifting while you’re here. And when you don’t, well, you suffer the consequences.” Adam Savage
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