I wrote this post three years ago and never published it. (There’s no good reason.) I wrote it with a friend in mind, who was stretched really thin and clearly exhausted, but wouldn’t let herself slow down because she cared so deeply about helping other people solve their own aches, hungers and problems.
I thought of it again today after an interaction with a loved one who apologized for taking time away to figure some stuff out, and thought it was selfish…when my honest-to-goodness reaction was, I couldn’t be happier that they are taking what they know they need, deep down. It allows us all to rest easier, knowing that they’re doing what what they need to be okay.
So I dug up these words, because there are so many people who need to hear them. Maybe you do, or maybe you know someone who does. I know so many caretakers in my life who are amazing at taking care of others, but won’t slow down to nourish themselves; and what’s more heartbreaking to me is that they don’t always see that they need and deserve care as much as the people they’re so willing to pour their energy into, day in and day out. So here you go.
Hey. You, there.
Yes, you. The one blinky-blinking at the screen.
I want you to know something.
It’s okay for you to have needs. And you deserve to have your needs met.
Even when it’s inconvenient. Even when it feels like there isn’t a second in the day to spare. Even when it seems like everyone else is broken, too. You deserve to be nourished, deeply.
With food. With love. With hugs. With rest, and breaks, and time away. With exercise that feels good, not the kind you make yourself do. With pleasure, comfort and kind words.
You have needs because you are a human, and being a human is fucking hard sometimes. Our bodies ceaselessly demand food and water and movement and sleep. They are full up of feelings: wild ones, confusing ones, conflicting ones, unstoppable ones.
The pang of loneliness. The raw ache of loss. The anguish of disappointment. The dull, chronic stress caused by any number of things—money, work, relationships. Or lack thereof.
When the weight of these needs threatens to tear you down, I want you to feel these words deep in your bones. Deep, deep down to your soul.
You. Deserve. Support.
Maybe your mom is sick, your partner is having a crisis at work, your sweet little girl is having trouble at school. They all have needs, too, and you want to be everywhere, to help them all.
I beg you to please remember: you have needs too. And yours are just as important as anything else you’re trying to solve, and not just because it allows you to help others, more, better.
Your needs deserve to be met because nobody wins when you give and give and give until you are empty.
Imagine my eyes, looking right at yours.
Please believe me: we want you to win. You deserve to win.
We want the opportunity to know and love the version of you that is well fed and watered, who says no when another commitment might drive you crazy, who is able to leave everything hanging to go have a good cry, because crying is cathartic and keeping it inside hurts. We want the version of you who will prioritize a good night’s sleep over checking everything off the todo list, who calls for reinforcements when everything is driving you batty and you just can’t even.
We want the version of you who will protect herself from anyone seeking your martyrdom for their own personal gain. The version of you who knows, deep down, you and your needs are equal to anyone you will ever meet.
We want to see what you can do when you are full and nourished to overflowing. We want to witness your raw, brave vulnerability when you are cracked open by life and refuse to break. When you lovingly hold your pieces together and tell us how we can help you fix it.
We want to help you. We want you to stop giving everything to us for a while, so you can meet your own needs. We want you to win.
Please remember this. We only win if you win, too.
Note: if you recognize yourself in this but don’t know where to start, check out this handy list of basic human needs!