I am not an inexhaustible resource. I didn’t say these words until I turned 40. I really think that before my life collapsed I really truly thought I could do anything I set my mind to, that I would find the time in my day to do the things that were important to me and I would somehow find the ways and means to get my programs, ideas and books out there.
Two premature babies later. One mom buried. Two dogs cremated. One foreclosure, two liquidated cars and to just top it off, I gained back the 25 pounds that took FOREVER to lose.
I used to hear people say things like “you need to take care of yourself,” “you need to put yourself first,” and “you need to be at the top of your ‘to-do’ list.” I checked all my lists and my day planner and the only place I could find something that even related to me personally was on the bottom of my grocery list under the pseudonym “chocolate bars.”
Even that was scratched off most weeks as the scale continued to climb.
It was only when I fell apart after my divorce. That pitiful time where I cried every day at least once for 43 straight days. Was I depressed? Probably. Did I medicate? Probably should have but didn’t. I simply felt every feeling that was bottled up in the past 15 years and it all had to come out. Once that storm passed, I felt drained – inside and out.
It was then that I had to pick up the pieces of my life and rebuild. It was then and only then that those phrases above got through my thick head. I needed to take care of myself first. My mom was dead. My husband left. There were took kids looking at me from bouncy seat and high chair respectively and they needed someone who could do this.
I read a book about the proper care and feeing of husbands and all I could think about what about the proper care and feeding of me? I started scribbling all my little ditties about what I needed to do and when Dr. Laura said it’s the wife’s responsibility to set her time so that she can take care of her husband and her children a light went on. I realized that it’s not my responsibility for them but for me!
I am not an inexhaustible resource for school functions, soccer leagues, church events, kids clothing, yard sales and whatever is on my plate this week. So every Sunday night after the kids go to bed I write down in my planner what I can do this week. Not what I need to do, not what I am guilted in to doing and not what I think I should be doing because my expectations of myself are unrealistic at best.
I also write down every week in my planner three things:
I am not an inexhaustible resource.
I have the same 24 hours as everyone else.
The world will not fall apart if I say no.
I hope you learn from me and don’t wait 40 years for this to sink in. But if you do, and you wait to 40, 50 or 60 you will be fine – just tired, cranky and overworked but fine. Because we all learn what we need to learn just at the point we need to learn it most.
Sandra Beck is the host of two popular radio shows, four books and the single mother of two children. She currently lives in Los Angeles on a ranch with her 4 rescued dogs. She volunteers for many national charities and struggles with saying no as demonstrated by her biography.