Exhausted from Caring

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    Even as I’m saying it this sounds so backwards, but it’s a struggle right now. I get so tired of taking care of myself.

    Let me give you some background. I struggle with a lot of depression, anxiety, and intense emotional reactions to things. I have a history of abuse from a few different people throughout my life, and spent my teen years with an alcoholic parent. I spent a lot of time caring for siblings and worrying about my parents growing up. My family is loving but I live far away from them and have been emotionally distant from them too for the last few years. I’m living alone right now; my husband and I are long-distance so that I can attend college and he can work. He is also very loving- he’s my rock, so understanding, and not emotionally distant. Just physically far away. On top of this, I’m a student in a field that requires great empathy and care-taking for others.

    Basically, I’m just exhausted from doing it all on my own. All my life I’ve worried about other people’s emotions first and felt shame for my own feelings, spending my time taking care of other people. With a lot of help and counseling and etc. I’m much better at self-care now, and really enjoying it, but some days it’s still exhausting just to take care of myself! I just want someone else to take care of me, for a change! Someone who can be there consistently. Unfortunately, I don’t really have that in my life right now.

    My question is, on your own journeys of self-care, how do you deal with this? What do you do if, even though you know how to take care of yourself, you’re just burned out? I’ve tried investing more in self-acceptance and care, and putting myself first. But I find that (at least right now) I have to withdraw and ignore others to do this. That leaves me with very few relationships to draw on when I need some support, and I’m not even sure how to ask for help half the time.

    So here’s some practice: HELP!



    It sounds to me like you’re caught up in your task list, racing against time to get everything done. Self care, in this way, becomes another task… “sheesh, so many tasks already, and now I have to self care, too?” No wonder you burn out! Where’s the peace? Where’s the space?

    Consider taking a different approach to self care. Purposely set down the task list, in total, for the whole time you’re relaxing, letting go. “Yes, the task list is there, and I will get to that, but for now, for this present moment, I will let it all go and walk with unplanned steps.” Like a wide open field, just be with yourself in the empty space of the task list. Not “from 1-2 bath time, from 2-3 yoga, from 4-5 running”. Rather, “from 1-3, empty space, spontaneous, me time”. And when you get to that space, do something kind for yourself that you enjoy. Nice day? Maybe walk in a park. Rainy? Maybe hop in the tub and have a good cry. Let your heart open, listen to the inner voice that is beside the task master, the one that says “hmm, maybe I need…”

    This let’s the happiness grow authentically, rather than “from 1-3 I will grow my happiness”. How exhausting that would be! And ineffective! Don’t place a task of self care on the list, put in a space to set down the list, be free. The happiness, recharging, comes more from the space than any specific self care action.

    As far as the “when is my turn to be pampered by others”, consider that “not now, maybe later”. Much like in winter it is easier to accept there are no fresh fruit on our pear tree when we aren’t hungry, and rest contentedly waiting for the conditions to be right for the pears ripening and growing. The husband is away, for now, so the tender pampering from him will have to wait. As you make more space, it will be less like a hunger, and more like a kind remembering. “oh, its nice to be held like that, but for now the branches are bare, so I’ll just take care of my own needs.” This is actually an awesome lesson, because not only will it make you more resilient to stress, but it will keep your gratitude blossoming when the pears are ripe.

    Namaste, sister, and thank you for choosing a path of helping others. What a heart on you!

    With warmth,

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