What Does 100 Percent Feel Like?
I am a giver. That means when it comes to something for myself or something for someone else, I rarely win. Energy, time, money, patience, you name it, I give it. I am usually happy enough with the results that I never question whether I made the right choice. I rationalize unnecessary sacrifices and excuse the lack of appreciation for my efforts at the same time. I quickly sweep my reservations and disappointment under the rug, always seemingly satisfied that I can say I tried my best.
But I have been lying to myself.
Over the last two years, I have begun to put my mental health at the forefront of my priorities. That task alone, while still coping with the ups and downs, the daily decisions, and the responsibilities of surviving life take up most of my time. So, I tell myself that one effort is enough. That focusing on that main component of my well being is what I owe myself. Honestly, I am extremely proud of the progress I have made. But then I’m also two weeks away from having dreadlocks because I haven’t run a comb through my hair in at least a month. I should be walking instead of sitting after a long day, but I had a long day and sitting feels better. I should definitely take better care of my skin, I’m pretty sure my feet qualify for caveman status at this point and I'm three weeks overdue for a wax. I need to read more, but I want to sleep even more than I need to read. The point is, I’m doing the bare minimum for myself in almost every aspect of my life and it sucks. Inexplicably, even with all these things I am neglecting for myself, I will find time to support other people emotionally, physically or financially. I can’t remember the last thing I purchased for just me, because I can talk myself out of so much, but I can show you the hundreds, or thousands, I have spent gifting other people. I have somehow come to the conclusion that everything deserves my all, except myself.
When I give 100 percent to my spouse. The result is a very happy husband and a great marriage. I give 100 percent to my son. The result a healthy and well-adjusted toddler. I once gave 100 percent to my job. The result, coworkers that respected me and managers that took advantage of me. When I committed to shredding before the wedding, the result, 25 glorious pounds lost, then regained. I have been trying my best to give my best, but somewhere along the way I forgot not only how to give that same 100 percent to myself, but why it is even important.
I have been trying to “find time” to organize my thoughts and write more because it is therapeutic for me, because it makes me look inward in a way I don’t do otherwise and because it’s the most pleasurable way I can work through the darkness that seems to enclose me to rejoice in the light I so desperately seek. But, this magical space of time doesn’t exist. There isn’t a 25th hour or an 8th day I can put in a cheat code to access. I must take it from somewhere else. When my husband is home from work and on the weekends, I try to spend as much family time as possible. We eat together, we shop together, we read, talk and play as a unit. If my son needs me, or just prefers me over his Dad, even while I am resting, I will welcome him. Until I reach the point of complete mental and emotional exhaustion, until I feel myself losing my drip on happiness and blurring the lines between safety and depression, until I can’t schedule a good cry and I’m on the brink of tears on one of the few occasions that I actually have outside adult interaction, I won’t stop to breathe for myself.
I’ve managed to make myself the least important person in my own world, and I have done it so completely and so well, I can’t even recognize when I am being negligent to myself. I still amount my failure at happiness to something I am not doing for other people. Not realizing if I was happier, if I was healthier, if I gave myself more, I would much closer to looking like the person I try to be. I would have the energy to sweep. I could manage to meal plan for the week. I could make it out to that event. I could sit on the couch and snuggle with my husband while we watch a movie. I could write without the guilt and fear I’m letting someone down. I could believe I’m not bringing myself down, when all I’m trying to do is hold myself up.
I know what 100 percent of my effort looks like. I have seen it in my deeds, I have seen the results on other people’s faces, I even have the house of my dreams to show for it. But I don’t know what 100 percent feels like. Not internally. Not for myself. Not in my own dreams, my own happiness, while prioritizing my own needs. I think too often we are told it is selfish to put yourself first. But today, this time, I think it’s selfish to keep the best of myself from ever benefiting from having that 100 percent.
What does 100 percent look and feel like? I’m going to find out.