You’re important to your family, to your co-workers and to your circle of friends. The most important person who should know your importance, however, is you. If you don’t know that you’re important, and treat yourself that way, it can create mental and emotional stress and age you prematurely. Do you treat yourself like you’re important? I didn’t for a long time.
For what seems like forever, I put myself second. Second to my children, to my husband, to the rest of my family’s needs. I didn’t speak up, I deferred to them. Not that I didn’t have an opinion and talk about it, but I never gave my opinions, my emotions, my health the same weight as I gave everyone else’s. Here’s an example.
Years ago, my husband’s career landed him an awesome job that happened to be about 75% travel. That meant for every three out of four weeks each month, he was gone… New York, California, Illinois, South Carolina… He could have been anywhere, and he was. His travel left me at home with a full time job on the other side of town and three boys, one who, at that time, was a particularly wily teenager who didn’t like rules too much.
As things would happen around the house that necessitated decisions, especially regarding the kids, I’d defer them until I could talk to my husband. It wasn’t a “wait till your father gets home” kind of thing, I just wasn’t confident in my decisions. I wasn’t sure that what I’d do without counsel would be what “should” be done or would be “what Jon (my husband) wanted.” I do have to say that this behavior of mine had nothing to do with anything Jon had said, like “we’ve got to talk about decisions like this” or “don’t do anything without talking to me.” In fact, he had said the opposite. “Make the decisions, Charla” he’d said. I just didn’t feel confident. I didn’t feel right doing it without him.
Old habits die hard and it took almost eight months of doing everything this way while I felt like our lives were crumbling around us. We would try to carefully create plans and then they would need to change because of something that happened and I wasn’t able to handle the changes well. Eventually, I was so overwhelmed by holding every decision on my shoulders that I snapped. I freaked out on Jon on the phone one day while he was driving home from the airport. I yelled and screamed at him how stressful it was here at home without him. How it was nice that he came home on weekends but it took a day to get used to him being back, he’d do his laundry and then he was packing to leave again. I was waiting for him to help me make the decisions around the house, and if he wasn’t able to be available to talk through these things, how could I do it? After he got home from the airport that night, we sat down and talked.
As I listened to myself talk with him, I realized what I had been doing. I don’t know what it was about that particular conversation, but something clicked. I had been devaluing my own opinion. I had been showing my boys that a mom needed a dad to help her make decisions. I had been deferring punishment that I knew should have be meted out at the time of the infraction. I had been stressing about little things that, had they been dealt with at the time, would have already blown over, but instead, they had become more drama than they should have. I was stunned that I had allowed myself to do these things. I had no idea that I felt so unimportant to myself. It was a shocker.
After sleeping on these realizations, I woke up the next day a changed woman. I made decisions and I did things. I no longer felt paralyzed with doubt. I still shared everything with Jon on our calls in the evenings, but I shared things that had happened already, not issues that needed solving. That change in me was good for my relationship with Jon, with the boys and within myself.
I am important.
I am important to my family, my co-workers and my circle of friends. And I’m important to myself. I created a new pattern of healthy behavior and I’m very proud.
Are you important to yourself? Have you ever had to deal with self doubt like this and how did you crush it? What was your catalyst?