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Women And Wellness: Why Do We Put Ourselves Last?

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

A fictitious but based in reality typical day. With or without Spouse/Children/Pets insert your ‘stuff’ into this ramble:

iPhone alarm. Wake up to numerous alerts. Breakfast. Planning. Get everyone else in dwelling ready for their day, then you. Walk dog. Work. Emails. Phone calls. Need dinner stuff. More work stuff. Children stuff. Organizing stuff. Laundry stuff. Walk dog. More work stuff. Zoom meeting. Cancel workout. Pick up or check in on kids. Homework help stuff. Remember dinner stuff again. Shopping. Check email. Get sidetracked. Facebook stuff. Remember to cook dinner. Cleaning up stuff. Walk dog. Remember laundry in washer. Spouse stuff. Kid stuff. Everyone’s in bed. Look at clock.

Now there's time for you. Except it's the end of the day.

Women are taught to be helpful.

Woman are taught to be reliable.

Women are taught that self-care is selfish.

Women are taught that society makes decisions about our bodies.

Even being aware that this is an issue doesn't prevent it from happening.

On top of all that, we are tired. Can't someone do stuff for me?

That white knight doesn't exist.

I've been putting off writing this blog for myself because *insert task at hand or stuff here*.

I'm not a writer, I'm a massage therapist, therefore blogging is a side hustle that will get my attention when I can give it.

That is really the wrong answer.

I finally see that it's not my fault for thinking that way.

I'm currently reading Dare to Lead by Brene Brown and there's this really great story that only Brene can tell. Nutshell version: lots of ego, lots of shame, oodles of vulnerability. While finishing up an audio recording, the sound engineer can hear her earrings tinkling in the background and asks her kindly if she would please remove them. While taking them off and being quick about it, she speed walks out to her purse in the hall without paying attention to where she is going and heads smack dab into a glass partition. So hard, she knocks herself out.

What follows is confusion, vomiting on camera during a Zoom, an obvious bump with contusion that eventually shows up as a black eye with a bruise that travels down her cheek-- but she plods on through the rest of her day like a trooper. Later that evening, when she is unable to focus or look at something straight on, does she admit something is wrong. She is diagnosed with a severe concussion. And I love this quote: "Sick, unreliable, and undependable are huge unwanted identities for me...I grew up believing that illness is weakness.".

Unreliable or undependable doesn't really fit with the opening of this blog about a day in the life, does it? And if we believe that illness is weakness, then we don't schedule ongoing therapeutic care, whatever that looks like to you depending on the issue.

Brown further continues with the notion that not only would we not fault someone for being sick, we would offer our support and help. But in her family, in my family, in my society: "being sick is lazy, and if you're tough enough, you can walk off anything."

Oh hey, maybe that's why during the covid19 pandemic, we have to beg people to stay home if they are sick.

What emotion do we connect with if we're told we are sick and lazy?


This article in Healthline explains that,"Shame typically comes up when you look inward with a critical eye and evaluate yourself harshly, often for things you have little control over. This negative self-evaluation often has its roots in messages you've received from others, especially during your childhood."

Okay so we've got a huge level of responsibility and showing up for others, tied into our ego and self-worth. We don't want to appear needy, sick, like we're failing or not good enough.

One more quote from Brown here, "Current neuroscience research shows that the pain and feelings of rejection that shame inflicts are as real as physical pain. Emotions can hurt. And just as we have to describe, name and talk about physical pain to heal it, we have to recognize and talk about shame to get out from under it.".

Do we need permission to take care of ourselves? Yes. It's really obvious to me that we do.

Physically and emotionally.

Here's an ism that I've finally figured out (hey, better late than never) but when you put yourself last, the only person who feels it, sees it, regrets it later, is you.

I'm finally putting myself first. I'm not great at it-- yet. I see where I let other stuff take over but it's getting better. I make a conscious effort to stay on top of what I need for self-care. Hell, a year ago, I had no idea what I even needed for my own self-care.

Point is, I know now and it's a responsibility to myself to uphold it.

I'm not at my best when I don't get what I need.

My self-care is a priority.

And so is yours.

And it doesn't make me selfish or less than, or needy, or inadequate, or lazy.

Same goes for you.

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Please share this post with someone who needs it.

Jennifer Halisky RMT, is a registered massage therapist working out of Cushna Wellness, in the lovely neighbourhood of Gastown, situated in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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