Sometimes taking care of ourselves is the best thing we can do for another person

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There was a time that I didn’t really know how to take care of myself.  I was never helpless.  I was considered to be quite assertive, actually.  Nor was I slovenly, though friends from high school might recall the period when I came back from a summer abroad and no longer brushed my hair or shaved my legs and looked somewhat unkempt.  Still, I got through most of my days and did pretty well so and I thought I should be fine.  But there were lots of days when I didn’t feel fine.  When it came to paying attention to my need for sleep or my emotional needs, or boundaries with people, or for making time for that really nourishing self-care that replenishes and rejuvenates… I was no good at that.  So there would be days when I had energy and pep to take on the world and other days when it felt all used up.  It was up and down. Out with friends and then under the covers.  And when I got married, I brought this with me into the relationship.

Marriage is billed as a “two become one” kind of deal. I had the impression that really good marriages were set up so that one person could have one  set of skills and then the other one would have the complementary personality traits and skills and you would put those puzzle pieces of human beings together and be able cruise through life all matched up, no gaps between skill sets or personalities or needs so you’d have every base covered.  Maybe that wasn’t so realistic.

Part of what I wanted out of marriage was the matching puzzle piece to my lack  of consistent self-awareness and care.  I wanted my partner to be able to help me find my center and maybe even make sure I stayed there so I wouldn’t feel all over the place all of the time.  I had a whole lot of expectations, most of them I didn’t fully understand, and those expectations put Dave, my husband, into a very difficult…even impossible situation.  “Hey, you are supposed to take care of me in all the ways I can’t.  You are supposed to make me happy.” Even though he tried, he couldn’t.  It doesn’t work that way.

It seems overly-simple and when stated like this. it’s like, “wow, you were so delusional and why couldn’t you figure out that that wasn’t a good plan?” But I didn’t.  For a long time.  And I’m sure that’s part of why round one of married life didn’t work out.

We separated and I had a few years to think about things.  I also had a few years of a profound and revelatory spiritual practice.  That’s when all of this bundle of expectations and passing off the job of my happiness came into the light.  Not only is the balance of power all screwed up when I think someone else is responsible from saving me from myself, but it isn’t actually possible.  I’ve seen that I’ve got to do the work.  That’s the only way. And when I’m really doing it, it looks a lot like self-care and boundaries, plenty of sleep and a dedicated, daily yoga practice.

So when this week, at the end of a really fun date with Dave, at this time when I am enjoying him so much, he said, “Amanda, I love watching you and what is happening in your life as you practice yoga.  I love what it is doing for you, and I love what it is doing for me.  It inspires me and makes me more excited about my own life,” I had this wonderful feeling wash over me.  Because learning to take care of myself, to take responsibility for my happiness and my life and to really practice yoga has been the best thing I’ve done for myself.  Turns out, it has been great for Dave and for our relationship, too.

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Amanda teaches yoga movement, breath and meditation in Austin, TX and online.  She offers individual sessions to those interested in developing a daily home practice.  More information is available under “classes” tab or contact her by clicking HERE.

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15 thoughts on “Sometimes taking care of ourselves is the best thing we can do for another person

  1. You know, its really the hardest thing in the world taking care of yourself, I’m just not there yet. Very inspiring to read about your own struggle and successes. Thanks, it helps 🙂

  2. YES!
    One thing about my man is that he has always been very “hands off” when it comes to taking care of me emotionally. Initially, I found this strange and sort-of aloof, especially when I was caring for a newborn. But I absolutely appreciate it and am grateful for the depth it has given our actual relationship. However, talking about this has been kind of tricky. Maybe I don’t have the language for it yet, because the reaction I have gotten from others when we talk about our relationships has been kind of negative, whereas I feel positive about the dynamic.
    So, a long way of saying “thank you” for talking about this opportunity for depth with such integrity and articulated art-fullness.
    I feel you.
    Big love.

    1. Kelly, how it feels when you and your man are together is the big-time, number one deal, so even if other people don’t get it, it sounds like it is working and keeping you two close. I think it takes a lot of maturity to be able to give space to our partners (maturity I’m still developing 😉 ). I’m coming to understand the value of giving space to each other to have emotional experiences and not take what the other is going through personally To not give credit or blame to our partners.

      Yoga of relationships is infinitely fascinating and the number one evidence that our practice is working. I think Mr. Desikachar said something like that, and I agree.

      1. Relationships is tooootally the place where you get to see if your yoga practice is working for you. It’s ever challenging. Thanks for reading!

  3. Thanks for sharing Amanda. I have been there, and I want to high five the two of you to be able to work through your issues apart and then get back together. That is so beautiful, real and a better happily ever after.
    I also found so much insight into my ways of coping and dealing with myself through my yogic journey.
    My favorite inspiration along the way about self-care is the safety drill on the plane: always put your own oxygen mask on first, then help others.
    You two look so happy on that photo! All the best, Ramona

    1. Thanks, Ramona. I was talking to a close friend yesterday about this crazy process that Dave and I are in (and boy has it seen some crazy days), and I am so very grateful for it. All of it. I think the safety drill message you mention is one of the most important things I’ve taken from the experience so far. It has changed me and my relationship and I’m so grateful.

  4. What a mindful reflection; sometimes it’s easy to ignore the tricky bits of relationships, or to blow them way out of proportion into drama. Thank you for doing neither. This is a wholehearted look at real humanity in one of life’s complex forms. Like balance on the mat, I myself am clumsily learning that balance in relationships is a slow, intricate, and dual-sided process. Here’s to balance and bliss in both places 🙂

    1. Bliss and balance? Here here! Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I love how you express this process of finding balance in relationship…sometimes clumsy, slow, intricate, and dual-sided. I also appreciate that because we as people are evolving and changing, our relationships reflect that– whether moving toward greater balance or further from it. aaahhhh.

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