A comment on one of my articles has stuck with me since I read it. I keep asking myself the question I was asked. Basically, how can we know what it means to be “positively selfish.” I know how I feel in general about this – don’t short-change yourself; otherwise those around you will not get the best you have to give. The details are different for everyone, so I have found myself asking, “Am I hitting a good balance with this?”
My 84-year-old parents have lots of needs, and I have spent significant chunks of time lately trying to make their lives easier and more positive. There are physical needs (Dad has advanced Alzheimer’s, Mom is recovering from a heart attack and bypass surgery), but the needs they have for a mood pick-up are even greater. Being around them is not always uplifting for me. Honestly, it is an emotional drain to watch these two people I love suffer physically, lose hope, and struggle to get through the simplest of tasks. It does make me feel good when I can lift their spirits, and I know I do, but it can be draining. Depending on how I am doing on a particular day, it is almost like what lifts their spirit is being sapped directly out of me.
Sometimes I do get that balance just right though. Yesterday was one of those days. I debated whether or not to take a yoga class before going to their house and decided in favor of it. It meant that I was with them 7 hours instead of 8, and I’m sure that the hour of “selfish” time was positive, for all of us. I felt calm and peaceful and ready to give. I was even able to catch a few great moments that might have passed me by in a different state of mind. It was a good feeling . . . and a great reminder!