From Selfie to Selfhood is a new Repose Ams serie from the heart. Where we talk about the meaning of Selfhood with people that move us. Does this age of the Selfie and shameless self promotion also mean we are diving more deeply into our own inside world? Is our Selfhood growing?
Britt Hughan- part of the Repose Ams team. Mother & wife. On a journey of holistically healing from a chronic illness.
I was taught that me-time was something made up by selfish, egocentric women. That when becoming a mother, the only way to be a good one, a real one, is to devote yourself to the child and the child alone.
I was taught that as a care giver / woman you need to be able to erase yourself, put the needs of others before your own, always. Sacrifice your own desires and health. No questions asked.
Caring came natural to me. And i cared a lot. Took over responsibilities that werenʼt mine. Carried the weight of lovers, parents and strangers. I was the strong one, the smart one, the one handeling it all. Always.
I wish someone had told me, when i was finding my own way is this world, that i was on the wrong track.
That while i was focussing on everybody else, i left the most important person out. That in order to be a giver always and when most needed, i needed a full bucket of my own.
To be rooted firmly into the ground, to handle whatever life throws at you.
I never ever paused. Asked simple questions like; what is it that i want? who am i?
Beyond the empathetic, caring friend, lover and daughter.
There was no selfhood whatsoever.
The first cracks started to show when my oldest girl was born.
She was needy, like all babyʼs are needy. And a little extra needy.
There was no space, no time. To sleep, to breath, to think. To fill up my already half empty bucket. I felt waves of hopelessness taking over me, looking for places to hold on to, not to loose myself and the last sense of control i had left.
Life went on, as it does. Hanging by a tread, i started a business, became pregnant again. By now my health was already slowly collapsing.
Clear signs if i would have listened, but so easy to ignore in this whirlwind life i had created.
It was hard to breath in our crowded, tiny appartement in Amsterdam. So we moved, to a fine house near the sea.
Things got a little better, there was room to breath, an ocean to cling to and my girls werenʼt needy babyʼs anymore.
But there i was.
Tired. Wired. Moody. And always in pain. Dragging my self to school pick ups and ballet classes.
I had become the mother that i never wanted to be. Constantly howling for some time alone, a space, a moment where nobody needed anything from me. Always looking for a way out. A simple escape.
I started to feel me. The starved and neglected me.
And for the first time ever i listened, to my own heartbeat, that voice in my head, begging me to stop.
So i made a start, by gently pushing off the things and people that sucked me dry, one by one. It was time to finally become me.
To teach myself and my girls to always, always put yourself first.
In retrospect i can say now, i was already too late, years and years too late.
My body was broken. And although there are more factors that made me chronically ill, i truly believe that my self destructive system of putting everything and everybody else first, of stretching myself thin, was an important part of it.
I struggle daily with my new inability to care for my girls, my husband and my parents, in the way i used to.
My lacking brain and body are holding me back.
But i have learned that i need to surrender. That this is my lesson.
Learning the hard way to finally focus on me, in order to get better.
To become the role model my girls desperately need for a happy, healthy and fulfilled life of their own . Because i now know that far from selfishness, proper self care is the souls homebase.
From where you can navigate your way into this world.
* Inspired by the Live Awake podcast “ Things i wish someone had told me”
*Featured image ‘Alone’ by Ruairidh Mcglynn.