It took me a while to formulate today’s post about humility. It wasn’t because I had nothing to say, but because I had TOO MUCH to say! You’re asking ME, Queen Selfless, to talk about humility? Are you freakin’ kidding me?
Being the eldest and only girl of a litter of 6 is all about humility! You get leaned on constantly and have to make sacrifice after sacrifice. My life has always been about taking care of others. In order to manage the family, I was often called on to help out. I was so far back down the line of needs, I couldn’t even see the line.
My family didn’t always have a lot, but we always found a way to share the little that we had. My mother always said, “What’s a plate of food to give somebody?”
Historically, our family would donate a hot meal to the all-male residents of a retirement home near the house every New Year’s Day. New Year’s Day 2000, my best friend’s mother called in the morning to tell me that despite how hard she tried to fight, my friend had succumbed the night before. I remember getting that phone call and freaking out. My mother had been out of town, and with only undemonstrative males in the house, there was no comfort or not even a hug — that memory is so vivid to me.
What was also vivid was the fact that 20 men were waiting on me to cook them their lunch. Yes, the show had to go on and my 23-year-old shell-shocked self had to cook for 30 people (20 for the men, 10 for our home). I remember my dad, despite being a truly traditional man (women only in the kitchen), told my very surprised brothers to help me. “Do whatever your sister needs you to do!” he said, gruff and awkward. It went without saying that the show had to go on regardless of the tragedy. At the time and even now,I don’t think it was unfair or cruel. It just had to be done because people were relying on me.
As you can see, I was moulded this way. On top of that, about last year, I realized that I am DEFINITELY an empath. I looked it up. Now, I have bookmarked “How to cope with being an empath” on my browser to help me when I have conflicts. I think it is natural that I became one, with “think of others before yourself” being drilled into my head all the time in the formative years. So how DO I cope with having an almost uncontrollable need to put others before myself?
I tell myself, “Self, your feelings and needs are important too!” I slowly came to understand that while it’s important to help people in need – answer a text from a friend freaking out about what to wear to work or going to a painfully boring show because someone wanted company or even reading a story to your child for the 5th time – it’s also okay to say, “Sorry, I can’t” and be okay with it.
For the first time in my life, I’m slowly moving away from being Queen Selfless and being more myself. Don’t get me wrong, “more myself” doesn’t mean I don’t give a damn. It means I give myself permission to join the line of needs sometimes and even putting myself at the front of the line too.
I don’t feel compelled to answer every text I get or take phone calls on the first ring just in case someone needs me. I accept that it’s okay to want to sleep in instead of going to something out of obligation. There’s nothing wrong with that. I know that now.