"Do you give and give until there is nothing left?"
We martyr ourselves when we give and give until there is nothing left.
My son started junior high school today, and as I left him at the curb and watched him disappear into a sea of kids he didn’t know, I couldn’t help but cry a little bit. I thought of my own mother, and how she’s not here to see her grandson off to school, or to give me any advice as we cross this new threshold. She died when my son was only 9-months old.
My mother was a legend. She was a good friend to people, an amazing mother, a philanthropist—she gave to everyone. She was PTA president, president of the swim team, and volunteered for a homeless center in Oakland that organized food for the needy. Her minivan was sometimes stuffed full of boxes of food and loaves of bread waiting to be delivered to people.
She was always on the telephone, giving support and encouragement, the 10-foot coiled phone cord swinging like a jump rope in our kitchen. It seemed like she was present for anyone that needed her at any time.
As her daughter, she gave me everything she had. I remember her staying up with me all night when I had the chicken pox, holding my hands so I wouldn’t scratch my itches. She’d type my book reports for me and invite all the kids over for parties and playdates.
My mom was a little bit like the tree in the book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. The tree gave away her fruit, leaves, and branches to a boy she loved. The boy made a home, fed his children, and sailed away in a boat, and in the end the tree was nothing but a stump (which she was still happy to give up to him as a seat).
Giving is wonderful but there is a cost to it. I feel like my mom focused so much on giving to others that she forgot to give anything back to herself. I don’t think she ever asked the question, “What do I truly want?” I know she had dreams that she never fulfilled. I have her half-written master’s thesis in my nightstand drawer. She lived for everyone else.
My mother taught me how to give, and how to show up for people, and how to love my kids. I’m grateful for that. And through her passing she also taught me the cost of self-sacrifice (which is too high), and the importance of self-care. To give everything we have leaves us depleted and empty.
As I watched my boy step into junior high this morning, I thought of how I needed to always be there for him, so I’d better keep my leaves and some of my apples so I can keep this going for the long term. We both have our dreams to fulfill.
This is The Practice.
To stop the pattern of self-sacrifice and remember who you truly are.
I have a Pop Up session of The Practice this Sunday, August 19, and our Fall 10-week programs are now open for enrollment. I would love to have you join me.
Now is the time to return to yourself. The cost is too high not to.