I realize that this blog is all about me and my problems – but I didn’t used to be the center of the universe, honestly!

Up until about seven years ago I was thoughtful, considerate and tried to put the needs of everyone else in the world ahead of my own because that’s how I was raised.  I invited grade-schoolers to my pre-teen birthday parties, as a high-schooler I was a second mother to my 3-year-old sister because our mother was a single mom who worked full-time.  After I got married I gave up having things that I wanted, and sometimes even what I needed, to be sure the bills were paid, the girls had clothes and toys and my husband could pursue all the hobbies he wanted to…  I planned and hosted 95% of all our family gatherings (about 20 people), held a Gingerbread House Decorating Party for all the kids I knew every year at Christmas and provided all the supplies.  People came and dropped their kids off like it was free babysitting, sometimes leaving me alone with 20 grade-school aged children.  I sold Avon but I fell into debt instead of making money because I was giving away too much product and/or discounts trying to get and keep customers.  At church I played the piano and sang for both Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights every week.  I felt like saying “no” to someone who asked me for any kind of help was practically sin so it seemed like I was always giving, giving, giving in hopes that someone would give to me but instead I became invisible.  I was selfless to an extreme.

Seven years ago we moved 400 miles from all of our family and friends to a new city, a new house, new schools for the girls and new jobs for us.  After many years of not having to work and having lots of time to myself while the girls were at school and my husband was at work – all of a sudden Alone Time ceased to exist.  We needed the income so I got a job and I left to go to work before everybody else did and I got home after everybody else was home.  I felt like I was going to go crazy.  I stopped caring about putting other people first but I still didn’t push to put my needs first either.  I was hovering in a daze of exhaustion , stopped on a plateau of apathy for years.

I became laid off when the economy crashed and I thoroughly enjoyed three months of unemployment.  I slept most of the time because I was so very weary.  I wondered, “If I ever found a new job, how on earth could I keep it?” because I felt so unwell most of the time but when I did  manage to beat out over 200 people for a receptionist job 20 miles from home the adrenaline rush kept me going for several months and from there I somehow found the strength to keep on keepin’ on.

I was finally able to purchase a keyboard when our house in the previous city sold.  I’ve written over 100 songs and my goal was to record my music, get “discovered” and hear my songs on the radio, thereby becoming rich and famous.  Ummm…that did not happen, not even close.  One person told me he listened to my CD every night because it put him to sleep.  (That sounds terrible but he really sounded like he was sincerely trying to give me a complement – in a very man-minded way.  I’m sure he meant my music was soothing and relaxing, uh huh…)  In one of my more selfless acts I gave up my piano, the one that my mother bought for me before I was born, because my husband didn’t like it, complained that we didn’t have room in the house for both the piano and the keyboard and he was tired of moving the piano from house to house because it was too heavy.  I agreed to give away my piano on the condition that after we bought a house with enough space I would get a baby grand piano.

Three years and one month ago we bought a nice house.  2400 square feet, four bedrooms, plenty of room.  As of today, still no baby grand.

Two years ago next week I was blessed with a government job.  Great pay, even better benefits.  About six months after that I placed my feet firmly on the path of selfishness when I asked my husband to switch churches because I had some serious reservations (that he didn’t share) about the one we are in.  After six months of “discussing” the church issue and meeting with various church staff leaders, causing immeasurable stress to our marriage and my health – to the point that I threatened to commit suicide and started taking antidepressants – my husband decided to chose the church leadership over me…breaking his earlier, hard-won promise that we would leave and find another church, albeit against his better judgment.

That, ladies and gentlemen, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  I was angry and tired of giving up what I wanted and needed for him and everybody else in my life.  No more!  I decided that if I wanted something or it was just too beautiful not to have that I would buy it.  My pathetic work wardrobe (truly a need, not a want – remember government job….) quadrupled in about six months (that was maybe just a tad excessive), although all of my clothes came from thrift stores or Wal-Mart so it’s not like I paid Mall prices for anything like all the other girls at work seem to (honest!).  I went from owning two pairs of shoes to now possessing right about 25 pairs.  I became a spender, whether we could afford it or not, because I deserved to have pretty things, nice things and things I just plain ‘ole wanted.  I stopped spending my time on other people with just a few exceptions.  I started sleeping as long as I wanted to on Saturdays and feeling less and less bad about how frustrated it makes my husband.  I started planning to get a tattoo because I’ve always wanted one.  Life became all about me, me, me… because it never had been before and I just wanted to shine, just for once… just for once…

I now find myself at the other extreme, I am rarely selfless.  That girl has been lost in the woods for quite a while now and I’m not sure I really care where she is anymore.

So where is the line, that healthy balance of taking care of yourself and giving of yourself to others?

Next month I will be 40 years old.  Maybe I will finally start to figure things out and grow up… but all I really want to do is sleep in a cabin on the ocean shore, walk on the beach, hear the waves calling my name and stare into the fire forever.

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