There have been times when I really didn’t like certain things in my life. More than once, actually. You’ve probably had times like that, too. Most of us have.
Sometimes it’s a relatively simple fix: remember to gas up the car the evening before, even if it’s raining and you’re tired and hungry, so you don’t run late the next morning.
Leave the remote in the same place every time so you don’t have to send out a search party for it when you absolutely cannot stand one more minute of some mindless sitcom that passes for entertainment these days.
Take the dog out one more time even if it’s dark/rainy/snowy and even if you’re tired/sleepy/don’t like the dog, so that you don’t have to deal with some horrid atrocity on the carpet in the morning.
A lot of this kind of stuff is what we learn as we grow up and begin adulting. (I don’t know who thought to make “adult” a verb, but I like it). We learn things to make our lives easier, more streamlined, less prone to minor emergencies, because who needs all that drama?
Other times, though, we need bigger changes. Changes that change everything. We might need to change to a different job or career, a different location, or even a different life partner – or to realize that we’re complete without one.
These changes don’t only affect us; they affect the lives of the people we love, too, and not always in a good way, though that would be the hope.
When I took my two young sons, thirteen and ten, and left their father, it was because I was suffocating in that marriage. I stayed as long as I could and probably longer than I should have. Now, this was an honorable man, and I am glad that he is the one who fathered my children, but I could not stay married to him.
I was terrified of the effects this would have on my boys. But I knew we’d be okay the day the older one said to me, “Mom, I know Dad’s house is a lot nicer than this one, but – it’s like you can breathe here.” Yes. That was what we needed. We needed to breathe.
Several years later, I remarried, to a man I didn’t know nearly as well as I thought I did. Five years after that, when my younger son and his wife lost their first child, Husband was not supportive of me being there to help my son through that nightmare. I knew then that I should leave the marriage. But I didn’t. I stayed fifteen more years and missed out on the lives of my grandchildren when they were young. Only when Husband’s behavior was completely outrageous did I finally cry, “Enough!”
So why did it take me so long to walk away? Why do so many of us stay and stay and stay in untenable situations that do not nurture us, do not sustain our spirits, that cause us great harm? Why do we do that unspeakable thing to ourselves?
I think I’ve figured it out.
That’s why. Women don’t give themselves permission to do what we need to take care of ourselves. And I get that. Marriage is a solemn commitment, not to be taken lightly. Most of us hold ourselves to a high standard. And sadly, most of us put ourselves last. We’ve been conditioned (my generation, anyway) to do our duty and put ourselves last.
So I say, Permission Granted.
Permission granted to take care of yourself. To make the changes, large or small, that you need to make.
Permission granted to walk away from the things in your life that do not serve your highest good.
Permission granted to change your mind and your life.
Not willy-nilly, of course. With thought and prayer and much soul-searching. Forgive yourself for not knowing what you couldn’t know until you learned it. And now that you know it, permission granted to make the changes you need.
Permission granted to examine your life and change what you must.
Permission granted to do what you need to do to make your stay on this planet as satisfying and rewarding as it can be.
Permission granted to take care of your precious self.