Monday, July 2, 2012

A Revolution of One

I don't mean to be dramatic, but I am intending to stage a revolution...of one.  No small tweaks are going to get me out of this one.  I need to shake this shizzle up.

I've been on the injured list for weeks now, unable to work.  (Pinched nerve - most of my left hand is numb. I can safely say that I am NOT a wuss, but it HURTS like a MOFO.)  Still, I drove my kids to doctors/dentist/camp/friends' houses.  I still got groceries/made breakfasts, lunches and dinners/cleaned/folded laundry/arranged swim lessons/ran errands/made playdates/told the neighbor I'd bring in her mail and newspapers for the week.  I still helped at the schools/listened to friends' troubles/was a shoulder to cry on.  All the while going to the chiropractor, not putting my hands in clay, swallowing copious amounts of Advil and gritting my teeth to get through the sleepless days.  And I have been down in the proverbial dumps.  A pissed-off, grouchy, down-in-the-dumps mess.  The days dragged on and I did not see an end in sight.

In a moment of serendipity,  I was speaking on FB with Meekah Sage, a new creative friend, and her seemingly innocent comment sparked something in me.  She said:

I wonder what would happen if all that I give and commit to others I actually did for myself......I wonder how things would shift....

LIGHTBULB.  Or as Oprah would say, I had an "AHA MOMENT."   It's kind of brilliant, Meekah.  (BTW: she's chronicling her road on her blog - find it here.)  It's the reverse of the Golden Rule.  What if I did unto me, as I did unto others?  What would happen?  So, I decided to stage my version of a little revolution, and I'm going to chronicle it here, over the next couple of weeks.

I tell my children to spend their free time doing what they love best.   I try to help them, when I can, to do their favorite things.  I encourage my friends, too - try to be a cheerleader when they need one, when they're a little afraid to try something new.  But I don't do this for myself.  I need to do this for myself.  Is it self-indulgent?  I thought so for a little while, but then I thought: if I don't think it's self-indulgent for others, why would I think that for myself?

What was my first coup?  It was little; but it was bold for me.  Friday I spent the day packing and doing all the little niggly things that needed to be done before we set off for two weeks to Martha's Vineyard, where we just renovated a lovely little house. (This is now my favorite building on the planet.)  I was super-busy, sorta in pain, but happy to be packing beach towels and bathing suits and a little pile of books.

That night was an event at the "Club" - a family-friendly night of dinner, fireworks, steel drums, and a large group of well-dressed, well-intentioned folks that were happy to eat hamburgers and cupcakes in 96 degree heat.  My husband and younger were already there, happily playing golf and eating said burgers, chatting with their buddies.  My older son and I were to join them later, against my better instincts as both he and I were cool and content packing the bags and chatting, and the "Club" really isn't our thing.  I started to get tired, get a headache, rub my neck every couple of minutes at the thought of heading out to this big, hot shindig.

In my eyes, my husband is the best husband in the whole wide world, and as such, I want to make my him happy, because I love him so very much.  So, with my head pounding, my neck prickling with pain, and numbness running down my arm, I took a shower, got dressed in an itchy dress and headed out into 96 degree heat for the next three hours.  I made it 20 minutes, standing next to my husband, gulping down cold water, unable to identify 90% of the crowd, before I turned to him and said: "I don't think I can stay here.  I'm sorry that I promised you I'd come.  I'm going to go home."

AND I DID.   I felt guilty on the ride home, but then I felt relieved.  My older son said: "I'm so glad we're going home, Mom.  I really didn't want to be there for three hours." I said: "You know what?  Neither did I!" And we laughed.  (Know what else: hubby was sweet and understanding, to boot. Win/Win.)  I realized that I should not do what does not make me happy.  And more importantly, I should not feel guilty about it.  Feeling guilty is a WASTE OF MY TIME.  Life is precious, and short and should be honored.  AHA!!

p.s. My back is starting to feel better...hmmm...why would that be?  Maybe because something's "off my shoulders"?


  1. Well done you! It took me a lot of years to get that knowledge. We are better at helping others when we help ourselves as well.

    1. I appreciate that, Deborah. I felt a bit funny (and a bit naked, frankly) to write that post. But it is the truth and I thought other moms/sisters/daughters/etc. might feel the same. Thanks for reading! It's lovely to connect with nice folks like you. -Rae

  2. Yes, Rae, awesome & GOOD for you!!! I'm looking forward to your little and big steps on this road! I can imagine the honesty making you feel naked, but doesn't it make you swell a little, too? I so love reading honesty on blogs - there isn't enough of that going around! Thank you for sharing an authentic bit of you!

    Did you hear about the book Quiet, by Susan Cain? I'm currently reading it, it's about introverts, and I'm finding a lot in there that is helping me feel better about things like your club story (that I'd feel SO the same about, incidentally)!

    I actually told my lovely friend & neighbour across the street that I wasn't coming to the BD party she and her husband were throwing last weekend. I'd been honest about my unease at (crowded) parties with her before, so that helped, but I still took three weeks to tell her I wasn't going to make it - while I'd known and felt that, 'if I were me' (hah, right?!, I really wouldn't be going, basically as soon as the invite came in!

    I sent her the text (we text a lot, this wasn't a cop-out-thing ;)) - feeling totally trepidatious about it - and as soon as she got home from work, she came to my door and gave me a really big hug :D She told me she got it, and she got my anxiety about the decision, and she loved me for being honest all the same :D

    Taking care of yourself the way you do for others - INCLUDING asking others for help, the way they ask you! - is a great big step for many of us women, I'm with you! And I'm excited to see there are more of us trying to change our exhauting ways ;) YAY from the bottom of my heart! (& enjoy that lovely little house of yours!!)

    (& sorry for taking up so much space, but you spoke to me, girlfriend :D xx!

  3. You know how I feel about this. Keep on this path. You know what is best for everyone so why wouldn't you know what is best for you? Love that the hubby was supportive. But I kinda knew he would be;)

  4. What a fantastic breakthrough you had. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story. I agree with you about the importance of self care, and doing things for others and helping where you can, but also paying attention to your own needs. Good on you and I hope you experience more remarkable shifts and create more joy and ease in your life!!