by Sharon, Australia
My life has been all about devotion, and many who know me would agree that I have been a devoted mother to my seven children. In addition, I have been devoted to my work both as a Birth Educator and also a Nurse, as well as being devoted to giving back to the community. In all this devotion there has been very little self-devotion and self-nurturing to myself as a woman. In fact, what I truly have been is another D word, which stands for ‘driven’, in which I have felt that I could never do enough to feel that I deserved any space in which to just be devoted to myself.
For me, the experience of growing up in a large family with a father who chose alcohol and work over family, and a mother who was barely coping with her own life, created a belief in me that when I would have a family I would do it ‘better’. I was determined that I would be there for my kids and contribute something truly worthwhile to society. From reaction to my own upbringing I worked very hard to be a better mother, educator and forever available friend. In the pursuit of how to do it or things better, I embraced many ideals from what I read and from the experts I consulted. This resulted in me completely abandoning my own inner intuition and trying to do the best to have the ‘perfect home birth’, to be the ‘best attachment parent’, to ‘breastfeed for years’ despite what I felt about it, and essentially always put the needs of my children and others before my own.
In reaction to what I saw happening in school with my first two children, I decided it would be best for my younger kids to be home educated. This created a huge pressure for me as I continued to work part-time and run my home with very little support. Throughout all this I justified within me that I was ‘doing the best’ for my family, and would even openly share that I would see others who were acting out of reaction in their choices with their own children, but I was not one of them! The arrogance I held about my choices did not allow me to see the actual harm I was doing to myself and my children, as my motivation was coming from the place of all the doing that would fill the exact place where I felt I was ‘not enough’.
Despite all this doing and driving, I actually often felt that I was not doing enough… I would feel guilty about this at times and would lose it because it all felt too much. From this place I would try ‘even harder’ to meet my kids by consulting yet another book or taking yet another’s idea to ‘get it right’. Throughout these intense years, I had very little support from my husband as he was living his own belief that he was doing the best he could by going to work every day, and that it was the mother’s role to take most of the responsibility for the children. Inevitably my frustration and resentment grew with my choice to be responsible for so much.
Throughout this time my health suffered and I was often unwell with colds and viruses. I managed to keep myself functioning by placing my trust in alternative medicine, but never truly regaining my health. This all changed 3 years ago when my body, after 26 years of mothering, gifted me with the stop I truly needed – I was diagnosed with a severe endocrine issue that left me barely able to get through my days, and which even my fistful of alternative supplements could not fix. I had no choice but to seek traditional western medicine and to go on medication so that I would be able to get up each day and function. Even though I knew at some level my choices had resulted in my health issue, I still wanted to blame someone else for them. I decided that if only my husband had been more supportive along the way and had not held the belief that raising the family was all my responsibility, then I would not have become so sick.
In a vain attempt to nurture myself, and for the first time since I had been a mother, I booked into a five-day health retreat. This decision would completely change my life… and not just because I managed to get five days of rest and relief from the way I was choosing to live. The change experienced was ignited through some spa treatments I received from a Universal Medicine Esoteric Practitioner. I knew nothing about what an Esoteric Practitioner did, but what I felt in my two sessions inspired me to continue having esoteric healings when I returned home to my family. With the loving support of Jenny Ellis, within six months my health had improved dramatically, and more importantly, I had started to address how I was choosing to live. I slowly began to be more loving and caring towards myself; by going to bed actually when I felt tired; also by removing foods from my diet which I already knew did not agree with me; and starting to actually nominate the choices I had made that did not come from that innate place within me, but instead from all that had happened to me.
I realised that it was no-one else’s fault that I never felt I ‘was enough’, or that I didn’t feel supported. The fact was that I had never truly and lovingly supported myself.
With time I allowed myself to feel the hurt of what I had chosen for myself in living out an ideal of what I have taken to mean as being a ‘mother’, and never what it truly means to live first as a woman who is devoted to herself.
This is a process that is still very much unfolding for me as I continue to expose many more of the ideals and beliefs that I still hold about ‘mothering’ and ‘being better’.
This unfoldment has been deeply assisted by my own initial commitment to return to a deeper connection within myself, and also from what has been shared with me through attending Universal Medicine presentations and workshops. I have been deeply inspired by Serge Benhayon and his unwavering devotion to making life simple and about love. For the last two years I have been attending an Esoteric Developers Women’s Group and have been lovingly supported by its presenters Natalie Benhayon, Jenny Ellis and Mary-Louise Myers, to understand what it means to live as woman in world that is dominated by drive and striving. I also continue to have esoteric treatments, including Esoteric Breast Massage and Esoteric Ovary Massage, which I have found to be an amazing way to feel more of the woman I truly am. As well I have been deeply supported by the honesty shared in my sessions with Michael Benhayon, and the Psychologist Caroline Raphael.
The way I choose to live each day now is much less about drive and striving to better, and more about being devoted to honouring myself first and being more aware of how I am holding myself in all that I do. From a woman who prided herself on only taking 5-10 minutes to get ready in the morning, I now can take up to two hours – and it feels great for me to have that time spent on myself. I also find I have more body awareness and can feel when I start to go into that ‘drive motion’ that does not feel good in my body. I can also feel when I am avoiding taking responsibility and looking for a reaction from either another, or a situation. I do not get this right every day and sometimes fall back into the pattern of trying, blaming and wanting everything to feel better. But what I am also developing in myself is a place where I don’t give myself such a hard time for not ‘being perfect’… which feels amazing from how I felt about myself before.
I imagine some women may read what I have shared and think “no wonder you became exhausted and sick in light of some of the choices you made” (not everyone goes to the extreme of having seven kids!). Although this is true, I do feel that many women I know personally have worked in similar roles as a Birth Educator, and also nurses working with people with cancer, and who have all felt driven to be better mothers, wives, partners, workers, givers in the community – often at the expense of their own self-care and true nurturing for themselves first.
My self-realisations are not intended to suggest that anyone who chooses some of the things that I chose are doing the wrong things for themselves, but more for every woman to consider what truly may be driving them to make certain choices in their lives that may not be working for them, as was my case.
For myself, I came to the knowing within me that how I feel about myself and my choice to be devoted to myself is not dependent on what I do, what I do not do, or how anyone else perceives me.
It is just about connecting to the undeniable truth that I have a deep loveliness within me, and that when I give permission and allow this feeling to be in me, it feels like there is no other way to be.
From this place I find I can be lovingly devoted to myself as a woman first, which allows me to more innately know about how to embrace myself as a true mother, Birth Educator, nurse and friend; and that it is not about doing, but more just about being connected to myself first, which allows me to then truly know what to do next.