You Lift Me Up: Why Self-Care Isn't Selfish / a picture of a woman making a heart with her hands

You Lift Me Up

Melissa Gosselin

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Can you believe February is already over? I’ve been thinking a lot about the passage of time, and about how much things have changed over the past year. 2021 was big for me — a lot shifted. The reason I want to talk about self-care today is because of a realization I made in July of 2021 that changed my perspective for the better. 

Now I know this topic has probably been talked about to death, that even the term self-care has lost its meaning, but I wanted to share my experience. Sometimes a novel thought after a good cry can send you on a new path forever.

I was in Colombia with my boyfriend, preparing to move all my things and my dog back to Canada. It had been a hard few months.… There had been so many changes, and of course, I was grieving the death of my mother. Good, productive days were few and far between. 

On this particular day, I was beating myself up because — due to a lack of planning on my part — I was going to have to change my travel date back to Canada. I’d waited until the last minute to buy a plane ticket for my dog (it never occurred to me that they could sell out) and after a phone call with the airline, I learned that there were no tickets available for another month. 

I hadn’t planned on staying in Colombia for that long. My travel visa was going to expire before the next flight was available. I was sitting on the floor next to the bed with my face buried in my knees. My boyfriend had just come in and seen me in this state of collapse; the look of helplessness on his face made an impression on me. No matter what he said, no matter what he did, there was no getting me out of this state of self-flagellation. 

Once he left the room, I felt numb. My negative thoughts had tuckered themselves out. But there was a moment of stillness that allowed a new thought to enter: 

This anxiety attack isn’t only hurting me; it’s hurting the people around me too. 

I’d probably thought this before, but there was a different feeling behind it this time. Maybe it was my grieving period that contributed to my shift in perspective. I mean, all I had to do was look at the hole left by the death of my mom to understand how we are all connected. 

Maybe this seems obvious to a lot of you, but trust me when I say this was a new concept. I’d always thought that lambasting myself with excessive guilt might eventually push me towards productive action, that I wasn’t really hurting anyone but myself. Wrong! The truth was: By holding myself to such an impossible standard, I was subconsciously holding others to the same one. Not to mention that every one of my emotional collapses affected how I showed up for others. 

So in thinking of my loved ones, of the people who depended on me, I found a reservoir of energy. I stood up. I pulled myself together. I got myself a glass of water. I had a shower. I forgave myself for past mistakes and made a new plan for my flight home. From that day forward, I was committed to taking better care of myself, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, so I could take care of the people I love.

And I’ve kept my promise. Even today I prioritize self-care, and doing so has allowed me to truly be present with my loved ones. Because I’ve become so in tune with my own needs, I’m more in tune with the needs of others. I know now that life is chaotic … unpredictable, and all I can do is be grateful for the people and things that give me peace in the present moment. 

Have you ever had something happen that shifted your perspective forever? Let me know in the comments below! 

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