“The greatest gift you can give to somebody is your own personal development. I used to say: ‘If you will take care of me, I will take care of you.’ Now I say: ‘I will take care of me for you if you take care of you for me.'”
I love, love, love this quote. How did it take me over thirty years to learn that not only can I not take care of anyone if I cannot take care of myself but that I can also not change anyone who does not want to change? All I ever wanted even prior to my bike accident was someone to take care of me. I had a difficult childhood and always yearned for someone to just love and take care of me emotionally. I always wished for an older sister and gravitated to my friends who also needed help and felt as lonely as I did. My two best friends since I was twelve remain my closest friends and it is these two people who taught me everything I know about being a girl. Kaitlin who lives in Maine right now taught me things from how to shave my legs to what to do when I got my period for the first time. She still teaches me things about life and probably has no idea how much I appreciate and love her for the person and mother figure she always has been to me. Following my bike accident and subsequent brain surgery I clearly had no way to take care of myself and had to rely on others. Being hooked up to a feeding tube for food and a catheter to go to the bathroom are two obvious examples of how much I could not take care of myself. However, once chronic pain truly set in I yearned non-stop for anyone to take the physical pain away. I could not take care of myself physically or emotionally. I was a walking mess who just wanted to be loved and understood. I went through hundreds of doctors, multiple surgeries, and more procedures and medications than I could ever count to get rid of the invisible pain brain surgery had left me with. All I wanted to do was take care of other people because I could not take care of myself. I hated that I was falling apart and no matter what was always there for other people because I could not help myself. I wanted some purpose. Every time I tried to help others I fell more apart because it truly was impossible to help anyone in the state I was in. No one could help me because no one understood chronic pain and it took me years of searching for a cure and coming close to death to learn in Minnesota of all places that I needed to accept I had chronic pain and learn to manage it naturally. After I learned how to accept my invisible illness and had every tool I needed to manage the pain naturally, I still could not help anyone else as it took me over a year of truly focusing on myself and my health/routine to come to a place where I was able to care for myself and more importantly love myself.
I still struggle with wanting to save or help people who do not want my help. It is a terrible feeling.to know someone is suffering and know that they do not want your help. There is only so much you can do for someone, especially someone who does not want help or who does not want to change. We all need love and support no matter where we are in our journey with or without chronic pain. You can love and support someone no matter what however I think this is one of the greatest quotes I have seen in a long time: “I will take care of ME for YOU, if YOU will take care of you for ME.” Only then can we take care of one another.