A journey to self love – Blog by Sobia Hussain

self-love-journey-blog-2019
Self love journey

“Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” – Parker Palmer

I was born in a middle-class family. As I grew up I watched my parents sacrificing their lives for us and hence me and my siblings learned to do the same. We never dared to dream big and if we ever did we never thought to accomplish our dreams because all that mattered was “others” not “self”.
My eldest brother saw my parents working hard and ignoring their health, their basic needs for us and so he said goodbye his studies, gave up on his dreams and thought to help out his parents to earn for his younger siblings. “Ke Jeena isi ka naam hai ke dusron ke liye jiya jaye.”
 
These three members of my family set this example of giving up on dreams and even ignoring basic needs of themselves for the sake of the others. And after learning the same lesson and doing the same for years I finally realized that this notion was utterly wrong. The part where you “give” is good but the part where you are left with nothing is a problem.

How “Giving” can be a problem?

As I mentioned above, my parents went beyond their limits to provide for us and so did every one of us for each other. But when I see those three members now, I see only bitterness and self-pity.

The same things I was left with when I “gave” myself “beyond my limitations” to others. Others? Well, my own family members who needed someone to help them with their kids or during pregnancies, at the times of illness, house management, adjustment with (us) the in-laws, emotional burdens etc. This stuff happened to me when I myself was going through depression and preparing myself to work for a career of my own. It was when the times of need called me and I left “myself” behind.

I knew I needed time to heal and to get out of this depression, I knew I had to go a long way to build my career because no one from my family could help me in my field and I had a very limited circle.

I chose to help because I was the only one who could help and meanwhile I waited for things to settle down so I could find time for myself and my dreams. My relatives always admire me for being a helping hand, but I know that it’s not a “virtue” of me because being this way drains my energy, makes me more depressed as I find no time to fulfill my own demands.

With the passing time things kept on getting worse and worse and so did my depression and my health. During this phase I unintentionally developed a habit of stress eating which led me to sweet addiction, I gained extra pounds, and I was fatigued all day and couldn’t sleep at nights.

It was a journey of 6 years where I waited for “myself” but things that held me back kept on getting harder and so did my depression.

I used to be a firm believer that God can guide you through any intensity of darkness, I used to have a tender heart but there came a tie when I couldn’t even shed a tear for catharsis. In the final span of time, I became so weak that I wanted to die instead of handling the burdens of others. I happened to be an empathetic person which drained me even more than usual.

Was I a victim?

No, I wasn’t for sure, in fact, my story is relatable for many of you out there. I was the youngest of my siblings and that made me more loved than the others. My family loves me dearly; they buy me what I need and whatever I want. They appreciate my efforts for them.

They’ll do anything in their reach to keep me happy. But the problem was my silence and the way I expected everyone else to just understand me as I did understand them or the way my mother did. Maybe this life that I was having was normal for them. They never tried to understand what I was going through.

They thought I was just normal to remain at home after graduation, it is normal for them to suddenly become afraid of the crimes against women and it was normal of them to not allow me to go out and study or strive for my dreams. All of this was just normal for them but it was suffocating for me.

With every dream killed a part of me faded away. It was when I decided to speak up. But before that, I went through another phase of overthinking.

Self-criticism.

My family certainly needed me. I was there in the time of need for them. Despite of all the pain, all the rage and self-pity boiling inside me I always tried to stay calm and put on the outside. I tried to deny the voice who told me that you were ripped of your opportunities because you were needed here at home. I tried to stay positive. I had suicidal thoughts.

My spiritual growth was zero even I started a backward journey. In the mornings I couldn’t find the courage to get out of my bed and face the routines. “All I wanted was to run away or die. What was that I was waiting for?

To get time for myself? Or was I trying to abandon my loved ones in the time of need because unlike my own belief I wasn’t a loyal one.” These were the voices which made these noises in my mind all the time. Apparently, everything was normal. But all of it was getting heavier and heavier with passing time. Thankfully I had some understanding friends who supported me and kept me sane during that hard phase.

“I must do something about this situation,” I thought. Because I knew that death will take every possibility away while life can offer so much more. Even if this phase is hard, “This too shall pass”.

Your Dreams are important.

My family was OK with me adopting teaching as a profession. But even if I ever thought to give teaching a try, I had my dreams and I knew teaching will simply take away my time that could be invested into my dreams.

I believed in teaching voluntarily. And what about the possibilities of being a splendid version of yourself? Why should we give up? You are the only person who can understand your passion fully so you must respect your dreams.

There are people who will stop you, tell you that path leads you nowhere or you are too aged or too young for that, people will call you crazy. But even if you can’t figure out where to start, you can find your way. And so did me.

I knew my dreams were unrealistic for my family but despite my exhausting routine and depression, I struggled to keep my dreams alive and kept on taking baby steps for a very long time. To be true those baby steps were even smaller than “the baby steps” and again I was waiting for the right and enough time to start.

All I needed was the willpower and to be sincere towards my goals.

In the final span, I started to set my limits and to speak for myself because How can I possibly fill the cup of another person when my own cup is empty? What love can I put into my deeds for others when there is no love shown from me to myself?

I knew for sure what I wanted from my life. And to get that all I needed was to break through the fabric of the “normal life” in the eye of my family.

My mother who understood me like no one else, who supported me from the beginning and always appreciated me because of my selflessness started to think of me as a selfish person at first. She expected me to be like her, to help and serve my family selflessly, and the truth is that I tried my best but never could I be selfless without being strangled by self-pity. Whenever I looked into the mirror I could see the glint of my passion in my eyes. I simply couldn’t waste it.

Also Check: Men Vs Society – By Sobia Hussain 

And here is this custom when you start to speak for your basic rights people around you thinks that you are selfish. While it is not selfish.  Because if you don’t give your best to yourself you can never give it to anyone else.

I never wanted to end up like my mother, who at the end has everything but with worst depression of losing herself along the path. I never will lose myself for the sake of others. So I made some rules. Started to speak them out loud and obviously, started to follow them.

Complaining and Ranting will do No Good.

I remember that I used to complain about my busy life. The life that circled around my family but I was out of this circle. Whenever I complained about my life I always knew in my heart that it’s useless.

As I am the only one who can change my life. Everyone else is busy going through their own share of difficulties and they are doing their best for each other in the meantime. I only needed time and determination to start my life. And then I realized that I can go beyond my limits to save some time for “myself”.

As I mentioned earlier that my dreams were unrealistic for my family but when I started to speak for myself and followed my path, my family started to support me but unintentionally (as they were used to have my time) they started to interrupt my course.

They thought that I was going to abandon them while I never thought of abandoning my family completely. I loved them. Their sorrows and joys were mines as well. All I needed was a break.

And a new distribution of time wherein the daily routine I could have time for myself. I needed to improve my physical and mental health and in the end, I was able to start another journey which was going to nourish my body, my mind, and my soul.

Pain is never a bad thing. All this pain transformed me from a girl who could not think or speak for herself, who waited for someone to help her out, to a woman who can speak for herself and has the courage to carve her path through the hard rocks.

Does this story sound familiar? We all are stuck somewhere. In the never-ending responsibilities we forget ourselves and when we finally stop, we are empty. Every night when you stop and lay down think about what good have you done today and did it satisfy your own soul? If “yes” that’s a step in the positive direction, if “no” if you had to kill your soul, If you are ignoring your own path, probably you should think about it.

Take baby steps.

Start to take your time even if all you get is 10 minutes of silence, away from the others, with yourself only. Take small steps towards your goal. And enhance them day by day. I learned the value of my time when I couldn’t find any time for myself. Learn to invest your time wisely.

Learn to say “No”, learn to say “enough”

You will not be able to go too far with your plans if you agreed to everything against your rules. Learn to refuse what gets in the way of your growth.

Be “helpful” but “be sincere”.

Helping others never means that you have to ignore yourself for them. You can be sincere to yourself, take your time and still be loyal towards your loved ones. All you need is to be strong enough to manage your time and priorities.

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