The strong ones are never supposed to admit weakness. It's not our nature. We don't break, we bend. We don't shatter, we crack. We don't fall down, we don't give up and we never, ever admit we've had enough. We don't let the past win, the future scare us or the emotional scars we all carry, open back up. We handle, we deal, we face and we conquer.
All of my life, I have been a caretaker. The one who fixes things, mends broken hearts and takes control of situations. I get answers because I ask the questions. I wipe tears and hold on to broken souls. I am the strong one; the fearless, intrepid, nothing-gonna-break woman who everyone relies on. I have sat with the dying, cradled the broken and whispered love to those who needed it. A fighter for those who lack the strength. It is who I am, why I am here and what I will always be. There are many like me. Those who keep their shit together in the face of crisis, who handle life with aplomb because they refuse to be broken. The fixers. The super heroes. The earth angels who come out of nowhere when you need them, only to fade into the background when things get better.
But, even superheroes get overwhelmed sometimes.
The caretakers of the world are often the ones who need care themselves. They need for someone to reach out to them once in a while and just simply say; "I got you." People forget the strong ones. They look past the possibility that maybe they are hurting. It never occurs to people that the strong ones are human, too. Though many will totally pretend to possess superhuman abilities, (not that I would know anything about that - okay maybe a little), they are still only emotional, human beings who need to be looked after as well. Not for long. Not forever. But, sometimes.
Sometimes the caretakers of the world need a break. Someone else to pick up the slack for a while so that they can regain their strength. A lot of times we absorb so much stress and negative in our pursuit of handling life and taking care of others, if we don't clear it from our souls from time to time, the weight of it can crush us.
I maxed myself out recently. Never even saw it coming. Until it hit me like a speeding truck. I'm tired. Soul tired. The strong ones are never supposed to admit weakness. It's not our nature. We don't break, we bend. We don't shatter, we crack. We don't fall down, we don't give up and we never, ever admit we've had enough. We don't let the past win, the future scare us or the emotional scars we all carry, open back up. We handle, we deal, we face and we conquer. Until that inevitable moment in life when we simply just can't. We fight it, swallowing the sadness and fear inside, burying it. But, like a pitcher filled to the brim, we overflow. The dam breaks and we are left standing there, clueless. We have no idea how to do "weak" and even less of an idea on where to go from here.
I was talking to a trusted advisor of mine this morning, she is one of the few who can see through everything I show the world, to the inner Jenn. The tired Jenn. The one who has no idea how to be taken care of. The one who has been beating herself up pretty good these past few days for being so overwhelmed. She is one of the few people who actually looks at me and sees everything I try to hide. She is also one of the few who tells me what I need to hear and not what she thinks I want to hear. She looked me in the eye and asked me how long I been taking care of everyone, I knew she knew the answer already so I just kind of stared at her - waiting. She continued with; "Forever, right?" "Forever is a long time. Who takes care of you?"
Who takes care of the caretakers of the world? No one normally. We would have to ask for help. We would have to admit we aren't strong enough. We would have to admit, not only to the world, but to ourselves - we are feeling weak. We would have to step back from a role we have lived and breathed for as long as we can remember and let someone take care of us. We would actually have to have someone willing to take our super hero cape from our shoulders and wear it themselves for a while. Normally, when the caretaker looks around to see who is there for them, they find themselves alone. No one expects the strong to need help, so no one thinks to be there. If no one is there to care for the caretaker, what then?
Well, then, we must be strong enough to stop and care for ourselves. Taking care of the world is admirable. However, we must be as brutally honest with ourselves - as we are with those we are there for. We have to be truthful with ourselves, we must honor the truth and we must accept it.
It’s not an easy truth.
The caregiver’s self truth - We are no good to anyone, if we aren't good to ourselves. It isn't selfish. It's self-preservation. How are you supposed to be everything for everyone - if you do not take the time for self-care. If you accept excuses from yourself about all the reasons why it isn't possible, excuses you would call ANYONE else out on, then you are not only doing a disservice to yourself, but also to all you could potentially help or be there for in the future. Because, you will break. Epically break. Your health will slide, your heart will hurt and your life will suffer. You will burn out in ways you never saw coming and begin to resent those who you having been caring for. When in truth, it is our fault for not taking the necessary time and space to see to ourselves.
We must center and balance ourselves.
It is our responsibility to hang up our capes, put the halos on a peg and pull back from everything. We have to hang the white flag of surrender outside. Doesn't make us weak, it makes us pragmatic. We owe it to our heart and soul to give them a break. We can meditate. We can go for walks or sit in the sunshine. We can read our books, write our words and sing our songs. We can shut off our phones, pull back from social media and turn our attention within. We need to breathe deep, cleansing breaths and clear our minds. It is necessary. It is prudent. It is the only way to keep on being who we are. And we must allow as much time as it takes. Life won’t reset in an hour or two. Sometimes, when you have been on the never-ending cycle like I have – it could take weeks. Maybe even months. We have to honor all the work we have accomplished and understand the work will be do in the future will hinge on what happens today.
We must also learned that it's okay to be frustrated. That crying copious tears is our soul’s way of ridding all the emotions we have bottled up. We must not belittle ourselves for feeling resentment and anger. Being who we are sucks sometimes. The always on - the always strong - the always present, is exhausting. But, once we are right within, the light caretakers will bring forth into the world will forever be stunning, brilliant and fabulous. You are a shining soul. Don't let that light go out by not nurturing it.
It’s not selfish, it’s self-preservation. It’s not someday, later or when I have time – it’s when your soul is tired and demanding your attention. You can pick up your cape, halo and caregiving again and you will – as long as you learn to honor yourself as well.
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