Responsibility for my own needs

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This is the second in my series of posts on ‘My Responsibilities’

In my last post I stated that it was my choice to take responsibility to attend to my own needs and wants. When did that responsibility start? Which needs can I control? How?

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When my husband suddenly announced the ending of our marriage, I was left without choice. I was denied any opportunity to save my marriage, denied any right to a say in its ending and the manner in which it ended. My belief in my own self-worth as a person was completely shattered and I was left feeling utterly powerless. I was thrown into a trauma-like state of distress overlaying a grief process which overwhelmed my ability to cope and threatened to crush my inner resolve. My basic needs of security, trust, and having some control over my destiny, were destroyed in an instant.

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Thrown into that crisis without choice, the only was out was to get through, survive. However, beyond that point, beyond the instant of that initial announcement, it has been my responsibility to move past the drama, take back control of my life, and to attend to my own needs.

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There is nothing more empowering, no more certain way of winning back control,  than by taking responsibility for my own choices and attending to my own needs. I have come to realise the more aspects of my life I take responsibility for, the more choices and control over my life I am able to win back that had been lost by the action of abandonment.

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This has been a gradual process. I began by taking back control of my life one minute at a time, then one hour, then one day at a time. I began caring for myself with diet, relaxation and exercise. I restored routine and order in my life, and simplified my lifestyle. I focussed on my home and made it my peaceful sanctuary. I surrounded myself with things the way I wanted and redecorated my living space. I embraced solitude as a chance to do whatever I wanted and to follow my own passions. I let go of the coupledom that was and took the time to reflect on who I was as an individual. I spent time affirming my values and beliefs and resolved to remain positive and optimistic. I discovered me again.

That was a major step, discovering me.

However, when I went further and explored my needs I discovered that I was still down on the bottom levels of fulfilling basic needs, those of comfort and stability. I had been unable to rise to my higher needs of self-fulfillment and pursuing my life with purpose and meaning. I realised that, even though I had discovered and embraced my new self, I was still living our life my way, rather than living my life and following my dreams. Now it was my responsibility to change.

Attending to my higher needs of pursuing a life of purpose and meaning, of re-finding trust and re-gaining my feelings of self-worth will take some time. I will first need to eliminate those areas of my current life that are not leading to my desired outcome. This will require huge changes in my life. I will need to move away from the area where I have lived for 35 years, plan my future, get re-educated, start a new career, make new retirement plans, and work out how I will survive financially. I am aged 59. None of this will be easy. However, it is my responsibility to make it happen, to choose valued responses to those challenges ahead, in order for me to pursue my own passions to a higher level, and move forward to a life of purpose and meaning.

In the meantime, I will keep focussing on and take responsibility for those needs that I can address right now; those needs of my health, stability, and financial security. I will explore my responsibility for those needs in my next post.

Image Courtesy [Digitalart] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Responsibility

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“Look at the word responsibility – “Response-ability” – the ability to choose your response. Highly pro-active people recognise that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behaviour.”  Stephen Covey. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

This is my first post from a series of posts on ‘My Responsibilities’.

I wrote previously how I struggled with addressing my needs and wants because of my overwhelming feeling of being responsible. All my life I made sure that I put others first and did the right thing by my husband, my children, my family, my work, and our community. I did what I thought was expected of me. If something did not quite go right, then it was up to me to find a solution to the problem, and to fix it. Even though being ‘responsible’ often brought with it negative feelings of over-work, obligations, loss of freedom and dullness; and even though sometimes I ended up exhausted with everything becoming a struggle; I still felt I had to keep on keeping on. That is what I did. That was being responsible.

There is a flip side to this. It is hiding under the excuse of ‘others’ or ‘my genetics’ or ‘circumstances’ or ‘my responsibility’ to never really having the courage to do what is in my heart. These are the excuses coupled with an overwhelming feeling of thinking that I would be selfish if I ever did what was best for me – ahead of others. I have been using these excuses for not taking responsibility for my own self and my own future.

That was until I had my epiphany, the bolt of lightening that shook me out of the ingrained attitude of mine that I simply have to keep on keeping on. At that point I realised that I had a choice. Part of that choice was to take responsibility for me and my own well-being. It was my responsibility to recognise myself as an individual with my own needs and wants, my own opinions, a right to be treated fairly, and a right to a wonderful future. It was my responsibility to shake my core belief that I was not good enough. It was my responsibility to instill in myself a new belief of my own worthiness for a happy life which did not include continuing the way I had been, slaving away in fruitless endeavours trying to fix things.

In various posts I have written about varying goals of mine to get myself back on track, looking after myself regarding diet, exercise, and having quiet moments of reflection. I had missed the underlying voice within me, probably because it was hidden underneath all the confusion and turmoil I had been thrown into after the separation. I had also been clinging onto what had been my ‘normal’, and not wanting to make any more huge changes to my life on top of the huge emotional upheaval that I had already endured.  The voice within me now was questioning my reason and purpose for doing what I was doing and denying myself a better and less stressful life. I realised that I had been working the wrong way round. I had been plodding along doing what I had always done trying to find a purpose in it, rather than working out what my purpose in life was and then planning towards it.

It may not be my highest calling, yet I know that one of my innermost desires is to find true inner peace and harmony. To get myself truly back on track to that calling will involve going in a completely different direction in life. That will mean massive change. That is daunting.

It will require much courage to strive to this goal despite the apprehension and fear that I have on the challenges involved in getting there.

However, it will be done. It will be the best outcome for me and my long-term health and happiness. I will do it for me because I am worth it. It is my primary responsibility.

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Image Courtesy [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net