Where do you fall on the scale of priorities in your life?
Do you put yourself first?
Would you cancel your plans with friends if your boss asked you to work late?
Do you invest in yourself? Or give your all to others?
Do you know how harmful that is?
OK, I admit it.
It happened to me.
Yup, even me, the Queen of Pleasure herself.
For a few years after my divorce, guess what I had been serving for dinner?
Night after night after night.
And I don’t even eat meat.
Why? Because that is what my daughter would eat.
She was super fussy about her food.
And after a long day of working and parenting, I took the “easy” way out.
But was it easy? Not really.
We consistently had an unsatisfying time at the dinner table.
I felt victim-y and annoyed because all I would do was end up eating salad. After salad. After salad.
Perhaps not surprisingly, my daughter was bored as well, and responded to my crankiness with her own.
My selflessness was not appreciated. Not by Maggie, nor me. In fact, was I being selfless? Or was I actually teaching my daughter to shrink, instead of expand? Was I settling for crumbs instead of standing for my desires?
Women have been taught to put themselves last.
We take care of our partners, our parents, our kids, our bosses, and whatever leftovers remain are ours.
The strange part of this syndrome of putting ourselves last – is that it’s born out of some misbegotten idea that we are actually being of service. I was thinking that my compromising myself was because I was making it good for my daughter. Crazy, huh?
Women confuse settling and holding out on ourselves with some kind of harebrained act of generosity. If we suffer, it must be good for our loved ones.
And this crossed wire is responsible for so much unhappiness.
My friend Tim, a producer, was simply gobsmacked last week. He and his wife agreed that on Saturday, they would both take the day off. He would play basketball, and his wife would get a mani-pedi with her girlfriends. Saturday came, the house was a mess, the kids needed help with homework, and the dog wasn’t walked.
Guess what happened?
Tim left and went to play basketball.
His wife cancelled her mani-pedi appointment, and stayed home to walk the dog, clean the house, and help the kids. And when Tim got home later, sweaty and happy, what do you think greeted him?
An ecstatic wife, overjoyed with her selfless act of service?
Or an angry, deprived, frustrated woman, wanting vengeance?
Generally, it seems that men are better at giving themselves a break.
They don’t even question the importance of standing for their own happiness, in the way women do.
Men know that the dishes won’t expire, the kids can manage for a few hours, and they can even walk the dog.
Women are conditioned to compromise their desires, and sacrifice their joy in order to caretake and make it good for everyone else.
But who will make it good for us, if we won’t?
Who will grab us by the hand, and force us, against our will, to stand for our self-care, and learn the importance of investing in our joy?
And maybe more importantly, what cultural malaise are we pouring into the world, into our families, our communities, when we continually put ourselves last?
We create our own unhappiness when we starve ourselves, and then we blame others for the way we have made ourselves feel.
I was silently blaming ‘motherhood’ for my chosen chicken nugget diet.
Tim’s wife was blaming him for being thoughtless, when actually it was she who held out on herself.
The days of shriveling up and shrinking have to end, Sisters.
It is only us that can put an end to our own compromise.
It’s only when we take ours that we can afford to be truly generous to others.
When I make sure I am full, I can deeply and truly experience my own generosity.
So I started trying new recipes. I began to serve Maggie stir-fry, Caesar salad, grilled scallops, artichokes, sole with lemon and butter, roasted vegetables. Sometimes she would eat with me, sometimes not. But what happened is that since my anger went away, it was so much easier for me to tease her into trying new foods when I was excited to try them myself.
And Tim’s wife? Well, she and I talked. I told her about my own experience. I told her about Mastery. At first, she was thinking that this was not the right time, she wanted to wait until the kids were grown and in college. Or things quieted down at work.
But, a few days after we talked, her daughter called her out, and asked her why she always put herself last, and got mad at dad for it.
She called me the next day to enroll for Mastery this coming March. It will be a new beginning for her; as a woman, as a wife, and as a parent for her kids. She will finally experience the joy she can generate for her whole family by standing for herself.
It’s our time, Sisters, but only if we take it.
It’s our time to prioritize our joy above all other values.
Time to teach our sons and daughters the importance of standing for our value.
Time to insist on a life of balance, with each woman giving herself a seat at the banquet table.
Time to invest in yourself, first, foremost and always.
Time to trust your truth, time to trust your deep intuitive knowing that you are the right thing to prioritize, you are the right horse to bet on, and that doing so will serve not only you, but everyone else in your life.
Are you in? Come share in the comments below today:
What can you do for yourself today?
What can you give yourself?
A chapter of a great novel?
A dance break?
You know as well as I do that if you do not stand for your own value, no one else will.
You are so worth it.
Can you post in the comments and inspire, not only me, but every woman who reads this post, with your Pleasure Revolutionary act of self-love?
With so much love and pleasure,
Regena Thomashauer, aka “Mama Gena”
The School of Womanly Arts