If you want to leave, practice prioritizing yourself.
I love berries. The tart, wild blueberries found low on Alaskan mountainsides. The intensely sweet strawberries grown in the Hood River Valley. In fact, these unassuming berries are my two favorite foods.
Naturally, when my son was born, I was eager to find out if he was a berry-lover like his mama. As soon as started solids, I set out introducing him to the different varieties found in Oregon.
I learned that he doesn’t like the skin of the blueberry, will tolerate a strawberry (just for my benefit, I think), but in a clear example of nature over nurture, my son turned out to love raspberries.
Fortunately for him, raspberries are in season and we’re able to replenish our supply every time we go to the market. On our most recent visit, I added a pint of marionberries for him to try.
Last night, I opened the refrigerator to scrounge up something to eat for dinner. “Ooh, marionberries,” I thought, and my mouth started to water. I reached for them, and then stopped. “Nah,” I thought, “those are Will’s,” and grabbed the kale instead.
And then I had one of those moments, you know the kind - somebody tells you something about yourself, and you’re like - what me? I don’t do that - and then shortly there-after you’re presented with proof that you do.
I considered that I purchased zero pints of blueberries so far this summer even though they are in season and for sale next to the raspberries. And the marionberry taste-test? Bought with Will in mind.
The evidence mounted as I considered the rest of the shopping trip. Garlic and herb olives from the olive bar? For Will. Wild-caught fish strips? For Will. Uncured hot dogs, organic mac n’ cheese, free-range eggs? For Will.
What about Will’s mama? The only thing I bought for me was kale, and I don’t even like the bitter taste of kale. I eat it because it’s healthy.
So what does all this prove? That I don’t put myself first. It was my relationship coach’s (more on that another time) insight and she followed it up with a very serious: but you must.
I’m going to give you a minute to let that sink in, because if you’re like me, you’re thinking, “say wha’? I don’t even know what that means.” It feels wrong - I know.
“What about my kids?” you ask. “Shouldn’t they come first? And my husband - he’s important, too.” Yes, they’re important - and your best friend, and your parents, and your job. But nothing is more important than you.
The very big problem with putting every other person - even your children - ahead of yourself is that you are continually reaffirming the idea that your wants don’t matter and that your needs don’t have to be met and that you’re only worth as much as you sacrifice.
But the very idea of loving yourself means acknowledging what you want and need from life, asking for it, and enforcing boundaries when you don’t get it. Do you see that it is impossible for you to love yourself if you’re not at the top of your own priority list?
This week, I challenge you to pay attention to what you do and who you do it for. When you find yourself doing something for someone else, make sure it’s not at the expense of your own needs and wants. And for every favor you do for someone else, do one for yourself.
Even with something as small as grocery shopping, perhaps more so. Because if you’re not worth small gestures such as your very own pint of blueberries, how are you ever going to think you’re worth leaving an unfulfilling marriage? Or waiting for an amazing one.