I broke a promise to myself last week. When I made the commitment to give myself the gift of a year, I said that I would take really good care of myself every day. I made a choice to work four very long days and keep a travel commitment despite the fact that on day one, I should have gone to see my doctor.
Granted, I called my primary care doctor and was instructed to call my specialist. I didn’t have time to search for his number (and yeah, I had to search for his number — I’m lucky I remembered his NAME) so the day continued until I was finally able to talk to a nurse late in the afternoon.
It gets worse from here, and I’m not even going to share any more of this story but know this — I got on a plane the next day. I left and worked and traveled for the next three days, putting myself so far on the back burner that it’s truly shameful. It was totally my choice. I considered my options and consulted no one. I take all the blame for being stupidly stubborn; it’s a pretty strong trait of mine.
I hear stories like this from other working moms and I’m horrified at this self-neglect badge of honor that’s emerged. We elevate, promote, honor and respect working women who either secretly or publicly (hello, bloggers!) bemoan their self-neglect. A working mom I admire tells me she’s “dying” because she’s working constantly and is clearly exhausted. How can I really admire that?
I don’t want to be like this — I don’t want to be that person who ends up in an early grave because I put work before a health issue, or miserable and alone because I put work before relationships. There’s no honor in that.
Work is important to me, clearly — I love my profession so much that it is very easy to put it first. But putting work first doesn’t always mean what we think. Sometimes it means restructuring the way we work, or how we share the workload. Could someone else have stepped in for me when I was sick? Probably. Are there people I’m accountable to who wouldn’t be understanding of my need for a reschedule, a recap or an extension, given the circumstances? Maybe, but that might be a smart risk to take.
I’ve screwed up my priorities for, I hope, the last time. Now I need to go call that doctor.