Several years ago I discovered a movie called "The Women". I was interested in it because of the cast: Meg Ryan, Debra Messing, Annette Bening, Candice Bergan, Jada Pinkett Smith, Eva Mendes, Bette Midler, and more.
There is a part where Bette Midler's character asks Meg Ryan "What is it you want?" and the next scene shows Meg Ryan's character making a list with the heading WHAT DO I WANT?
The whole exchange between them made me stop and reevaluate what I was doing and why I was doing it. Since then I have made many lists with that same heading on them.
What do I want?
I also tend to break them down into smaller headings: Personal and Family. Some things I want for myself, and while they will impact my family, they are for me. Some things I want for my family, and while they impact me alone also, I want my husband to be working with me to make us stronger.
My last list like that is over 3 years old, and today I am feeling that I need a new one. Some things never change, like doing fun things with my hair and nails; and some things do not need to be on the list any more because I am a different person now.
And some things need to be on the list that were not there before.
These are the really important parts, the new additions. Things I did not consider previously, or did not even see as things I could, or maybe even SHOULD want for myself. Because really, most of the things that need to change on the list are things I want for me. Things that give me permission to quit taking care of other people instead of taking care of myself. That is the whole point of the list after all is said and done. WHAT DO I WANT? Not want do I want for my siblings, or what I want for my husband's family, or for my best friend. What do I want for me and my family?
And, truthfully, the family list is short and concise. And much less important really. Not because my family is less important, but because I am so very good at taking care of everyone but myself. I am a caregiver, a protector, wiling to drowned if that is what it takes to keep everyone else afloat. So the family portion of the list is really just there for that part of me that needs to think about other people first, so it knows that I have not forgotten that I am not the only person affected by my choices and changes.
The rest of the list is there to remind me that in order to do ANYTHING for anyone else, I must first take care of myself. My husband is great at taking care of me, but it really is not fair of me to expect that he do everything. He is a very busy person and me expecting him to "keep me happy" is utter nonsense. I am a big girl after all, an adult even. I am ultimately resposible for my own happiness. He adds to it, and greatly I will add, but he should not be responsible for it.
So I must take charge of my own disaster, for disaster I am.
I have given everything I had, my time, patience, energy (mental, emotional, and physical), and effort to everyone but myself and my husband. And while I can commend myself for the sentiment, it has left me with a broken heart and wounded soul. My sweet husband has done his best to protect me and keep me together when I am out of all capability to hold myself together. But really, this needs to stop.
I have to keep enough for myself and for my husband. He deserves more than the scraps left after I have given my all to my siblings that refuse to give back. He should not have to be always filling me up so that I can attempt to function. This is supposed to be a partnership DAMNIT!!! We should be taking care of each other, not just him taking care of me. I want to take care of him too.
So a new list is evolving. I am going to need to track down my favorite silver sharpie and my industrial roll of butcher paper. The list best is created with a permanent marker and a LARGE writing surface. And since the writing on the walls is not acceptable, butcher paper is a great substitute. And cute washi tape to hold it up, just because.
So, rebuilding my reserves commences.
What Do I Want?