Happy 2013. This still-new year kicked off for me like others in recent memory. I spend a significant amount of time in January helping my husband, aging mother, and brother in graduate school who is physically absent from his young son for extended periods of time, get the year off to a good start. But this year is different. I am addressing my own needs too.
This is a breakthrough.
I have spent years neglecting myself. Not because anyone asked me to, or demanded my full attention. Like many women, I sacrificed my own wellbeing because I thought my family needed me more.
Beginning with my nephew’s surprise arrival in 2001, less than a year after my brother’s high school graduation, my family has endured a mind-boggling share of challenges and pain. My father’s health began to decline shortly after my parents and I got my brother safely off to college. Dad attended my brother’s graduation in 2004, but congestive heart failure, triple bypass surgery and kidney failure were among the health burdens he faced prior to his death in 2005.
Five other close family members and friends died in the year that followed, including my Godmother/aunt. Needless to say, the grieving process was extremely difficult for all of us.
All of this grief, on top of being supportive to a husband recovering from years of emotional abuse and neglect as child and a brother trying to sustain an unwise relationship for his son’s sake, made me invisible to myself.
I immersed myself in everyone else’s problems, forgetting about my needs and dreams. What was once a constant level of excellence became an acceptance of mediocrity. My career, marriage and health all suffered.
But I’m now fighting my way back to greatness. Despite a number of false starts, I’ve managed to lose almost 75 pounds thanks to regular exercise and a new, healthier relationship with food. My marriage, though still hanging on by a thread, now has a chance of becoming the mutually beneficial and strong relationship I’ve always wanted. And although an unexpected June 2012 job loss has stretched household finances to an uncomfortable level, I’m working hard to breathe life into my career. Creating this blog is the first step on my way to professional fulfillment.