Lessons From an Ex in Self Care


walking away

Why don’t you stop being a martyr all the time and take care of yourself? Tell people what you want and ask for help.”

These words were spoken many years ago and fell on deaf ears for two reasons: First, because he was one of those crazy ex boyfriends who you look back upon and say, “why was I ever with him?”. Second because I had no idea what asking for what I needed meant.

He was right; I was acting like a martyr. I put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own. I responded only to the needs of others and had no concept of self-care. My thoughts were on survival and any emotion I had was easily suppressed by moi. I thought being nice to others was the kind and “right” thing to do so I quietly allowed people to dump all of their problems, need, and wants upon me. In true warrior fashion, I was strong and acted like I had it all together. Nothing could be further from the truth.

When I look back upon it, the scariest thing to recognize is that I allowed so much giving to people who were just in the business of taking. My heart broken every time I was there for someone and they turned their back on me in one way or another. Then I went from martyr to victim in a split second, but of course I didn’t reveal that either. That would make me so not perfect right?

My reign in martyrdom ended the day when I learned the importance of asking for help. By an act of pure self-love, I had joined into a community of wonderful individuals who taught me it was okay to state your needs and to ask for help. Once I was opening to asking, so many wonderful people appeared in my life from the strangest places. I still fall back into the warrior princess at times and resist asking for help. Then I turn inside and listen to the words from that crazy ex: tell people what you want and ask for help. And I do just that.

I realized the significance of this when I was injured in an accident. Suddenly, I needed help in doing real life things like lifting, reaching and at times simply cutting food. My injury actually became my greatest teacher in asking for help. Not only did I have to ask my family, I often had asked strangers and explain my problem to them. At first it felt horrifying because I hated being vulnerable. After a while I was okay with it because I realized people actually want to help and are very receptive when they understand what you need. It stopped being embarrassing and my having it all together self started to melt away, which felt good too.

When I look into the world and see people experiencing difficulty, the answer seems very simple: ask for help. It’s no fun to suffer and be miserable, especially when you do it with a smile on your face.

So reach out to a friend, a coach, or other professional who can help you meet your needs. It’s not all in your head; you may be legitimately stuck. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that one act of self-love can start you on the road to a happy healthier, martyr free existence? I believe you’re worth it. We all are.


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