Lately, two people very close to me aren’t doing too well and I have been going to hospitals and medical offices at least twice a week. When asked how I am doing, sometimes I mention my personal matters, other times I just say, “I’m fine, thank you and yourself?” I realize that depending on who I spoke with, their responses were different; it was easy to divide the generations by their responses.
My friends, mainly 20- and 30-something year olds, have comforting words and hugs (both virtual and physical), for which I am thankful for. However, when I talked to people I know in their 40s and older, they caution me that in order to take care of someone else, I have to take care of myself. When the first mature adult said to take care of myself, I nodded in agreement. By the time the third one said it, I realized their life experiences allowed them not only empathize, but the wisdom to educate me about something so simple, yet vital. As fate would have it, I woke up one morning with a sore throat and a headache that lasted 34 hours–the physiological effects of stress.
The onset of the stress symptoms made me reassess my approach of how I went about caring for those I care about. Prior to my warnings, I had selflessly given myself to one of the situations. Why wouldn’t I? But what good am I if I am if I am sick myself? Now, I take a few breaks to take care of me. Talking to one of my friends today, she said it’s like the airplane instruction for putting on an oxygen mask: You put on yours FIRST. I won’t get preachy with it, it’s self-explanatory.
Take care, my loves.