Ladies, this is for us. Why do we feel guilty to take time for ourselves to get ready for the day? Is it how we’re raised? Is it the media? What is it? Let me share with you my horrible experience and how I overcame and stood up for myself. I hope this story helps someone find inner strength and relief from pressures.
First are foremost, this is a vent and I’m sharing an experience. Let me say I’ve been doing the best I can living in a hard situation. My mother has stage 4 cancer. I’ve been the only one by her side since day 1 of the results. As her daughter there’s gender roles assigned to me and expectations from everyone to be met, including myself, especially my poor mother. (Praying for her everyday and for strength to do the tasks I need to daily fulfill)
I’ve been known for taking care of myself prior her current stage of cancer. In my day to day life I have my dear loving fiance, puppy, new house, two brothers, my mother, and her boyfriend.
From day one of her announced illness, I have shifted my living arrangements, my career, my hobbies, my friends, my wedding plans, my responsibilities to care for my puppy, my savings account, my time, my patience, my love, my care, my grooming, my balanced diet of eating. I put off all these things and more to shift all my energy to care for my mother I love so dear. Wouldn’t everyone else in the mix want to do this? Not so.
I took on the responsibilities of cooking, cleaning her house, scrubbing, cleaning up after everyone who visits and stays at her house, going to the grocery store, picking up her prescriptions, traveling far to take her to daily Dr. appointments, staying by her side 8 hours a day for her chemo, sorting her mail, spending time talking to her, visiting her at the hospital, taking out the trash, changing her bandages, doing her laundry, etc. etc. etc…… Basically doing the best I can all year out of the genuine hope and goodness in my heart. It’s been a depressing journey. I’ve had a few breakdowns where it was hard picking myself up. Facing obstacles and gaining blessings of transporting a wheelchair and borrowing my fiance’s truck. Obstacles dealing with rude people were daily and hurt my soft heart of compassion.
The point being, this was all expected of me because I’m a woman.
My mother even states,
“You’re a girl, boys don’t do things like this…”
My brother’s now live in the house and they don’t clean up after themselves. They make dangerous messes in the garage, kitchen, and disgusting messes in the bathroom. It’s my responsibility to clean after them. They have never cleaned anything that I know of in the house. They live in the house to be “with my mom” but they’re constantly gone to the casino, shooting range, out to lunch, at their TV, working on cars, volunteering elsewhere, or at a car show. However, If I say I’m going to go see my fiance, everyone has to know about it and it’s usually a HUGE problem and conflict of interest. How dare I do anything of my own interest? What time will I be back?
(Quick History with my brothers), growing one of my brothers would beat me to get his way, even for simple things like sitting in a chair he wanted to sit at. A few black eyes and dozens of purple-blue bruises. Nothing would ever be done to defend me nor correct his aggression. My friend is my witness. Living in fear of him was normal. She also had the same living arrangements. He also beat my younger brother often. My younger brother had many problems in school because he was bullied by him.
My self worth has sadly become how clean I can keep the house and keep my mom’s constant requests satisfied.
I am talked down to daily by my brothers, my mom’s boyfriend, and sometimes even my mom. I am told things such as “You don’t know how to cook” “You need to clean the house” “Take the trash out” “your eyebrows are too thick” “You need to do cardio” “I better tell you how to…” “You won’t know how” “You’re not thinking logical” “look at your face” “Don’t go anywhere” “You’re not going anywhere” “Pick this up” “give me your keys” “Pick him up and take him to…”
I’m ordered around and controlled because I’m a woman. Just a woman.
A few of my enjoyments in life is taking care of my skin and beautifully applying makeup and taking proper care of my long hair.
Taking care of MYSELF is NOT taken seriously at my house and is often ridiculed, scolded, and considered selfish. You will know when my favorite order of face powder arrives in the mail. “Your paint for your face is here.” “I heard you have a blog now about makeup, WHHHHY?”
For example, on Christmas, I was scheduled to go to see my fiance and have him pick me up for dinner at his mother’s house.
I told my mother my plans and she told me ok, but you need to clean the bathroom and make a table look pretty. I need you to hurry. She went in the garage to smoke and talk to my brothers and her boy friend. My heart raced, and I looked at the clock, I looked in the mirror and I cried. My hair was tied back dirty looking with 6 inches of un-dyed roots, dandruff, I looked down at my stained sweat pants, I looked at my tired eyes in the mirror, I heard how much laughter and fun everyone was having. Christmas that moment hurt. The tears that found my mouth were too familiar. My future mother-in-law has never seen me looking “presentable”
I hurried as fast as I could to find a dirty pair of jeans in my hamper, and looked deep into my closet for a festive sweater. My fiance gave me new tennis shoes for Christmas and I was excited to have them. I looked for the gloves to clean the bathroom, I just lost it and started crying and hid in my room. “Why do I have to do everything?”
My heart was broken and I got angry. I said, “NO!” “WHY?” I thought of all the other things I would have to do besides neatening up the table that go unsaid along the way, like trips outside to the trashcan etc.
I’m going to die inside if I don’t start taking care and fighting for my OWN happiness regardless of circumstances. Even if the Pope is here sick right now. It’s not happening no more!
Slowly I looked around and realized the house didn’t just fall apart because I’m not vacuuming and walking back and fourth to the trash cans.
I picked up my makeup brushes (all 5 of them) I grabbed my favorite lotions and eye shadows. I took my time blending and contouring my face. I had the hugest smile I’ve seen in ages on that woman (not that scared girl) in the mirror looking back at me. At the same time I felt so scared and shy, maybe embarrassed I had a whole face of makeup on. This represents I took time for myself and I’m not seen as working hard around the house. This is Jen being “Selfish” If I was a man here, I’d be considered looking neat and “sharp” I still heard everyone in the garage, so I took out my old curling iron which I haven’t seen forever. Excited, I started curling my hair and looking in the mirror. I felt my cheek because I have never seen myself with curled hair and I thought it was someone else in the mirror. That someone was important and looked like they had authority. Feeling good about myself lasted less than a minute. I felt embarrassed to exit and walk out to the garage knowing I had an unorganized table and dirty bathroom. I told myself that I didn’t make those messes but it’s expected of me to clean it for my mom because that would mean I’m a good daughter. I told her I’d do those chores that late evening (which I did)
My fiance arrived to pick me up. I was so happy to see him. He looked at me like he didn’t know who I was but he complimented me. I graciously accepted and told him how good I felt to do something for myself. (I often vent to him so he figured out I left behind chores.) At the dinner party, I was able to finally feel good about myself and not feel shy or awkward talking to my future mother-in-law. I did complain how tired and sore I was from scrubbing the hardwood floors only because she had the exact same color and style as my mom’s. At this point it was funny because I can’t believe all the hard work I do daily and don’t get praised for. Instead I got “you’re using too much water on the floor” however if one of my brothers ever started cleaning something, ANYTHING in the house, my mom would probably tell that story to anyone who was available to listen over and over for days. Why is it like this?
For a year, I’ve been in this syndrome of feeling guilty to do anything for myself. I had a talk with my aunt who flew out here. I told her how guilty I felt spending time away from my mom and the house on the weekends. She told me I need to have time for myself and my fiance. I never had that comment before. She was my sanity. She was always giving me compliments at home, not used to that. She stood up for me and praised me. She knew this battle herself on both ends as the caregiver and patient. Thank you.
Sometimes we see women out in public dressed in comfortable clothes, no makeup, and messy hair constricted behind their head. Please know that any woman can be lovely with time for herself and know that she might be fighting a battle of her own self worth. I hope that woman can pick herself up like I did and remember to do what makes her feel happy even if it’s on her own battle field.
Please watch the video below and help fight the labels against women.