The Importance of Taking Care of Yourself (When Life Knocks You Out Cold)

taking care of yourself

Sometimes life gets stressful, you face obstacles and things aren’t going so well. Other times, life gets in the boxing ring with you and knocks you out cold, but waits the full 12 rounds before doing so; that way you’re black and blue and nearly blind before going down for the count.  When you come to, you are not the same person that entered the ring. Unrecognizable to your own self, you wonder where that fighter you know you are went. What happened in the ring? How did adversity win? At what point did you allow life’s circumstances to get such a hold on you that you could not fight back or even win a few rounds? How did this become a total Knock Out? 

Perhaps it would help if I start at the beginning. 

On February 1, 2014, my phone rang and buzzed and nearly fell off my nightstand sometime around 5 a.m. and that is never a good thing. It was my baby sister and big sister trying to get a hold of me to let me know our dad had not woken up that morning and was in a coma at the hospital. He had had a seizure in his sleep and was found face down and unresponsive by my step-mom that morning. 

That phone call was challenging, but not for the obvious reasons only. My dad and I had never had a close relationship and in fact I had built up a lot of bitterness against him for not making more of an effort in my life and the life of my daughters. I made a command decision after that phone call though to let it go, and I boarded a plane with my daughters to go be with my dad. From that point on, there was an understanding of forgiveness and love, demonstrated by my presence. I said all I needed to say by showing up. And I continued to show up each month until he finally passed on June 2, 2014, four months after his initial seizure.

During those four months, I completely sabotaged my health by living on airport food and diet Dr. Pepper, not getting enough sleep, stressing out about when that phone call would come and it would be my final trip home, and essentially putting everyone else first. This would be understandable if it had ended when I assumed it would end; once my dad passedbut it didn’t. My grandma passed away two months later and I headed home for that funeral as well. Then the school year was upon me and I was not ready at all. My older daughter was showing signs of struggling in school due to attention and sensory issues, while I was dealing with the emotions of sending my baby girl to school but knowing neither of us were quite ready yet. As the year progressed, I was processing grief, and the moments leading up to my dad’s death were stuck on replay. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was that we undertook a complete renovation in the middle of the school year! I just wanted life to stop. I was weary.

But life doesn’t stop and that’s the whole point behind taking care of ourselves in order to be able to take care of others. When we put ourselves first, as in self-care, it is absolutely the most unselfish thing we can do. I can personally attest to the fact that I became nearly useless to the ones who needed me most by putting them first! It sounds backwards, but hindsight is 20/20 and I can see clearly how things could have gone very differently. 

What did I gain from no self-care? The inability to sufficiently care for my family any longer. I simply could not get it together, act like an adult and do the important things. I was limping along, trying to just survive and make it through. It’s fair to say I was emotionally a disastercrying all the time, wishy washy with my decisions and not following through on my commitments.  I would eat things I knew weren’t good for me, skip my workouts because I needed to “get organized” or work on a project. I filled my time with anything and everything that did not focus on me. I would go to bed obscenely late but still have to get up and take my girls to school. I needed to help my daughter because she was struggling so much with school, but it was so overwhelming I just threw my hands up. My husband was gone a lot because of work so I filled my time with fun things like home projects and watching TV; not the important things, like homework, dinner, and laundry. I simply could not get my brain to face being a grown up. 

Part of the reason I did not care for myself during those times is because I did not value myself. I literally could not see myself as important enough to pay attention to. But through that, God showed me how much He and my loved ones value me. Through the grief and trauma and overwhelming chaos, I have seen how things in my home fall to pieces when I’m a mess. I know now that being the best version of me not only blesses my husband and children, but it brings out the best in them and reflects God’s love to those around me. And I need my daughters to see a good example of strength in the face of struggle and grace in the midst of chaos. Unfortunately, they’ve seen just the opposite.

Because I allowed everything to get completely out of control, from my health to my kids to my finances to my home, I now understand the importance of who I am and who God made me to be. I am not an afterthought; I am my husband’s and kids’ first thought. I am not forgotten; I have friends and family that value me as a person. I am of worth! 

Yes, it took me hitting rock bottom, so to speak, in order to see my worth as a person, as a wife, as a mom and as a child of God. But I’m so glad I see it now and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. And I want to encourage you, if you are currently under stress or dealing with a life situation that is demanding all of you and you feel you have no time to care for yourself, please value yourself enough to put yourself first so that you can be the best, amazing wife, mama, employee or person you can possibly be!