We are in a pandemic right now if you haven't noticed and I just thought I'd start this post off with a captain obvious statement and my next point is going to resonate with so many I'm sure in that I don't know one single person that hasn't suffered great loss this year in some level or capacity.
However, my greatest loss began before the pandemic. As a matter of fact the last time I saw her I had on a mask and didn't give her a hug or go near her before she went back for a procedure because I had a super nasty cough, did I have covid? who knows, I am inclined to think I did but it was on the cusp of the start of where we today so I said "I love you but I'm not going to come near you because I don't know what this cough is" and then I left Florida and hopped back on a plane to St. Louis for work the next day. This was on February 8th and by February 18th she was gone. My 52 year old aunt who was laughing and being silly when I saw her last had been battling a rare form of cancer for only 7 months when the doctors told us there was nothing else they could do, she was here and then she wasn't. I didn't imagine that it would literally be the last time I would see her. This was absolutely devastating. I never truly grasped what significant loss felt like until this moment. I have always considered myself empathetic when people lost a loved one but because of my inexperience with this matter I didn't really offer the level of empathy I could have offered in hindsight. My aunt was more like a sister to me and it was this deep and great loss that made me realize something, it was no longer my job to be everything to everybody. I realized that my grief would not end suddenly and that I wasn't going to be able to "show up" how I used to. I needed to take care of myself and take care of my family.
It changed me, it changed my family. This was my mothers baby sister and my grandmothers youngest child who was only 12 years old when I came into this world and until she graduated high school we were just about almost always raised in the same house. Then after we lost her, my grandmothers sister passed away. Then here comes another devastating blow, my 41 year old cousin left us suddenly. A person I literally came into this world with as we were born only a day apart. We referred to one another as "almost birthday twins". Lastly, we lost my grandmother on my paternal side. My mom's side of the family said goodbye to two people and my dad's side of the family said goodbye to two people. I said goodbye to four. I've never experienced a year quite like this and this grief is only a portion of the grief I experienced. Some grief I shared publicly and other grief I experienced privately. I had been so blessed for so long that my family (both sides respectively) had never experienced such huge loss. As I said earlier it hit me sometime after my aunt's passing but even more after I said goodbye to my cousin that I was not going to be able to be "strong" for everybody else around me anymore, I physically could not. I was getting hit left and right and it was during this time that I saw people that I thought I'd at least get a card or text from that didn't show up for me at all. People that I considered good friends that just never bothered to check on me privately this entire year. It was in these moments I realized that I just could not be there for everyone and I was ok with that. I would be misunderstood and judged but I didn't care because people pleasing wasn't my concern. My health both mentally and physically was concern.
The overworking of ourselves to be there for people can straddle a fine line of people pleasing. Sometimes I think we over work ourselves to show up because we are afraid of being judged. You're afraid that if you do not show up that they will judge you or better yet, gossip about you behind your back. This obsession with that level of concern is a heavy cross to bear. I was always a person that checked up people, people that didn't always give me that same courtesy. I felt I always went the extra mile to show people that I cared. Then I was flat out asked why I feel I need to make sure everyone is ok all the time with the question "do they check up on you?" I thought about it, if I didn't text or reach out or call, there were people that would never text or call me either just to make sure that I was ok. It hit me that my job title didn't include "be there for everyone else all the time". Sadly, I knew these same people that never bothered to check up on me would wonder why I hadn't contacted them and that they would judge me. Read that sentence again, the same people that will never check up on you will wonder "why" you don't check on them. If you make the decision to sit in what I am saying, do realize that there are going to be people angry with you, there are going to be people that don't understand. It's because our society feels entitled to others time and emotion that they themselves are not willing to give. However, if this is resonating with you in some way, it's time for you to give yourself a little extra care.
There's this unfair assessment placed on people that if they don't show up for every single event you have, comment on every single post you make or buy every single product you sell that they are "unsupportive" and a lot of it I believe is driven by our use of social media. A person makes a post expressing their displeasure with others and there will be 100 people that comment and validate their experience. There is so much energy put into finding fault for those that aren't "showing up" how you feel they should show up that there isn't enough energy put into the people that do show up, there isn't enough energy taking steps toward compassion and understanding and there isn't enough energy put into just simply taking care of ourselves without the need or entitlement to feel that others should be catering to you OVER themselves. It isn't our job to pour our cups empty just to make sure everyone else around us is in a state of comfort.
We are all experiencing some level of grief I imagine right now that has drained us completely and your goal should be ensuring that you are caring for your well-being.
Ask yourself this:
What am I doing to stay healthy physically?
What am I doing to stay healthy mentally?
Am I focused on the right things?
These three questions are a good way to start to making sure that your cup is staying full. Sure, you can pour into the cup of others however you need to make sure you have something to pour from first, this is called pouring from your overflow. During my season of what seemed like never ending grief I began to walk every single morning and during these walks I would listen to some sort of spiritual message. I focused on my physical and mental health and then I began to focus on what God had for me as my purpose which brought me to my journey I am on right now today, the relaunching of my candle business and using this platform to share things that God puts on me that may help others. This grief management process has grown me far more than I could ever imagine.
While you may find another way to work through this season I beg of you to at least stop putting pressure on yourself to please every single person you know. Assess where you are right now today in taking care of your mental and physical well being. There's failure directly linked to you trying to people please and trying to be everything to everybody, you'll lose yourself each and every time and create a life filled with anxiety. You can not continue to let others "guilt" you with their expectations of you.
The weight of the world is not designed to be on your shoulders. Love yourself enough to just pause, take a break, find your gift and stop pouring from an empty cup.