The weight on your shoulders

March 30, 2016 § 7 Comments

I was halfway through my teens when I switched into self-sufficiency. I don’t think it was conscious, but if I look back now, I can see where it all began. I can point out the day when I had to start being more independent, more self-reliant, learn to do things for myself.

Self-sufficiency isn’t a bad thing, of course. But like everything, it has its shadow side.

Self-sufficiency is like a backpack you carry around with you. It starts off being manageable, and it’s full of useful stuff. As you go through life, you add more useful stuff to it. Incrementally the weight of that backpack increases, so you don’t really notice how heavy it’s become.

So you keep on filling it up, and you begin to notice that your knees are starting to hurt a little, and your back isn’t happy.But there are mountains to be conquered, so you keep walking, and you keep adding more stuff to your backpack. You squeeze things into the corners. Maybe you even find a way to stack them so that they don’t fall out.

And then the day comes when you can’t lift the backpack anymore. You can’t even get it onto your shoulders while you sit on the bed. Because while you’ve been looking after yourself, you really haven’t been looking after yourself.

Self-sufficiency is not the same as self-care.

Self-sufficiency makes the bed every day, and only allows you to crawl under the covers when you’re falling asleep on your feet. Self-care tucks you into bed when you’re tired with a cup of tea. It draws a hand softly across your forehead, knowing that if you rest, you’ll work smarter, not harder, tomorrow.

Self-sufficiency says ‘yes’ when it should say ‘no’. Self-care knows that ‘no’ is a full sentence. And that if you can’t say ‘no’ without guilt, then your ‘yes’ doesn’t really mean much after all.

Self-sufficiency is proud. Self-care is kind. It knows where the boundaries are, and lovingly enforces them.

Self-care isn’t a backpack at all. It’s not something you carry. Self-care is something you keep in your heart.

It’s small and it’s light, and it’s easily lost, but without it that backpack is impossible to carry.





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