It’s Okay To Put Your Needs First Sometimes, Even With Family

It's Okay To Put Your Needs First
Photo by Matthias Cooper

Nobody ever sets out to fail at something, but sometimes even the best laid plans fail.

Sometimes your best efforts result in a mediocre outcome. Sometimes, it’s not about you at all and it’s entirely up to someone else.

Either way it’s not fair to you to stay stuck.

For years, I’ve watched my mom care for her family in ways that most people wouldn’t find acceptable.

She allowed her siblings and parents to live with her under the pretence that other arrangements would be made. Her own personal relationships suffered because of her loyalty to her family. She thinks she’s doing what’s right by helping them in any way she can, often to her own detriment. I see that they are capable people and taking advantage of her because it’s easy and she allows it.

The last few years have been tough. Ever since my grandmother died the burden of caring for my grandfather has fallen on my mom’s shoulder. She was supposed to have help, but we all know how that goes. Everyone always says they’ll pitch in until shit gets real and then there’s no one to be found. Luckily, my mom’s brother agreed to help and things were better for a stretch, until his health also failed.

I know it’s hard to look the other way when it’s your own family. But when is it okay to stop caring for everyone else and advocate for yourself?

It is so stressful to care for someone else all the time, especially when you’re supposed to be sharing the burden with others.

I don’t have siblings so I don’t know the nuances of “looking out for each other.” But I do have close friends. Friends that are close enough to feel like siblings. I know that I would never want them to feel as stressed out and overburdened as my mom does.

I understand there are feelings of guilt about stepping back and saying, “this is too much.” There might even be a twinge of selfishness that comes along with the relief of being relieved of such a burden.

But where should you draw the line between caring for others and caring for yourself?

In some cases, I believe it’s ok to admit defeat and say, “I’ve had enough.”

Nobody ever sets out to fail at something. But sometimes things just don’t work out. Friendships, relationships, jobs, learning a new language—there are plenty of things that don’t work out.

Not everyone is cut out to be able to do everything. Maybe caregiving isn’t a strength we possess, and that’s okay.

I’ve been slowly coming to terms with the fact that we really need to let go and allow ourselves some grace to say that we’ve tried our best and now we’ve had enough. It’s time for someone else to step up.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I hope you find the courage to choose yourself and let someone else be responsible for a change.

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