Be the person you needed when you were younger.
It was Mother’s Day in the UK this past Sunday. This is always a hard time for me although I don’t like to admit it. I was adopted at birth and then lost my adopted mother to cancer when I was eight years old. I would never want anyone to feel sorry for me and always feel I need to be strong and not show emotion. I've always just said to myself that Mother’s Day is a commercial holiday, which Hallmark has invented and I couldn’t care less about it, when in fact it does bring up feelings of loss and is a reminder that my mother has been gone for a very long time.
I know it can bring up feelings for many people not just those who have lost theirs. Those who have strained relationships with their mums, mothers who are ‘lost’ to dementia or addiction, mothers who have hard relationships with their children… I have been lucky enough to have a wonderful dad, family and friends that have all played a huge part in my life, helping me to grow up and shape the way I am today. But the loss never goes away, it just fades with time and your reality becomes something different.
There were times in my twenties when I went down a particularly self-destructive path, drinking a lot and not caring much about myself, and in hindsight I was looking for someone to pull me back, tell me it will all be okay, and to be there in the way that one expects a mother to do.
What’s changed more recently is that I’ve started to mother myself. Be that person I needed when I was younger, which I think we could all do with to some extent whether we had the most loving mother in the world or one that wasn’t there.
Doing this was hard in the beginning and took some practice, making small changes regularly – showing myself the same love and care I would if I were my own child. I started to slowly change my habits, choosing to go to a yoga class over a night out. Saying no to meeting up with people that would leave me feeling drained and choosing to spend the time cooking a new recipe or chilling out.
It didn’t happen overnight, after years of not treating myself well to suddenly starting to care isn’t an easy mental switch. A lot of resistance came up (and still does), and I did go back and forth between doing what I knew was best for me and what I was used to. But with practice over time and making just one small change a week, which led to more, it started to come more naturally.
A great question I’ve started to ask myself when faced with a choice is ‘what would someone who loved/cared about themself do in this situation?’
Whatever stage you are at in life, are you being there for yourself? What more (even if it’s one tiny thing) could you do for yourself this week to show yourself you love and care about you?