Friday, April 16, 2010

Please secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I had a lot thrown at me. Phone calls from a lot of different people. People, who in the past, would have sucked me into their drama or should I say, people tried to suck me into their drama and I allowed myself to be sucked in.

It seems that lately, a lot of people from my past are resurfacing. People that I tried to help and in the process of trying to help them, didn't take care of myself.

It's been interesting to see how this is all unfolding. Some of these people have not been in my life for 4 years. They have not been around to see the transformation that is happening. They remember the old me. The old me that would drop everything to help them. The person that would try, no matter what, to make things better. Things that didn't even pertain to me, things that ultimately they had to fix on their own. Four years later they are still in the same boat and I am unwilling to help them this time around. They need to do it for themselves.

So Wednesday morning I called my coach, very overwhelmed. This call came two days after finding out Parker needed vision therapy, phone calls from quite a few people, and just feeling overwhelmed. I was sitting in the parking lot of the gym not feeling like going in. I knew I needed to go in. I knew that if I didn't go in I could possibly fall into my old ways of doing things like skipping the gym and eating like crap. I knew what I had to do, but I was really feeling the pressure of everything, so I called Coach Bob. I was rambling on, getting myself worked up. And Bob, in a loud, firm voice said, "Melissa, STOP IT!!" I stopped talking and listened.

He was proud of me because I told him that I told people NO. He was proud of me cause I was at the gym. He gave me a simple visual that has helped me so much. He asked me what do they say on the plane about the oxygen masks. I told him that they say to put it on first before helping others. He told me that me working out, getting healthy, setting boundaries, doing what I need to do, is me putting on my oxygen mask. I am securing my own oxygen mask. After securing my own mask, it is then that I can help others.

But I also need to realize that I cannot always help others secure their own masks. As I can tell from being back in touch with this person after 4 years. They are pretty much where I left them 4 years ago. I did EVERYTHING to help them, but they were not and probably are still not willing to help themselves. I am a giver. I care deeply for my friends, but the difference this time around is that I now realize that I cannot do for others what they must do for themselves.

It's just like with my weight loss. I've had people telling me for years that I needed to lose weight. A friend of my mom's was even so sweet to buy me Jenny Craig as my wedding gift, so I could "feel better about myself on my wedding day." I've had people "encouraging" me my whole adult life in this area and for my whole adult life I've been trying. Even on her death bed, my mom encouraged me to lose weight and you would think having a mom die obese, would have been what I needed, but it took me about 11 years to get it, gaining the most weight ever, being able to hardly move, and just snapping one day before realizing what I had to do. I had to get there myself. I had to be ready for the change. No one could do it for me. No one could secure my oxygen mask for me and now I'm succeeding at this for the first time EVER in my life and it feels great. I can finally breathe on my own.

Later that same day, after talking to Bob, and working out, I headed to see James, my counselor. We talked a lot about the people coming back into my life and what I am going to do about it. How am I going to handle it? How am I going to stay strong with my boundaries? He was very proud of me as well. He said that the fact that I told people NO, the fact that I still went to the gym, packed my food for the day, and didn't give into the drama that was presented to me. He then asked me a question. . . . . What is the difference between Melissa then and now? Why are you not giving in this time?

It was hard for me to answer. I know that I am a completely different person than I have ever been, but I could not figure out what made me different. I could not give him an answer and then he said think of it this way, "Why did you get involved before? What was in it for you?" It was then that I realized with James helping me that I did these things because I needed to feel good about myself. I needed to feel needed by someone. I didn't like myself very much, so if I did these things I would start to feel better about myself. The only problem is that I didn't feel better about myself.

So back to the question about the difference between me now and then? Well, I feel completely different about myself this time around. I love myself. I am proud of myself. I am not looking to others to feel needed. I am not looking to others for validation. I'm looking to one person and that is me. I am stronger and I now know that I deserve to be happy.

I will never stop being a caring person or helping others, but the difference this time is that I am willing and am helping myself first and it's the first time in my life that I'm totally ok with that. It takes a load off of my shoulders for the first time in years.

I am securing my oxygen mask. I am taking care of myself. I am finally putting me first. That is not bad. That is not selfish. It is what I need to do, so I can help others and it is what you need to do to. Is your oxygen mask secured or are you trying to help others first? If that plane is going down and you are securing everyone else's oxygen masks the reality is, you are going to die. The reality is, if you do not take care of yourself first, you will die trying to help others. I was 306 pounds and going up. I was slowly killing myself, but not anymore and I'm the happiest I've been in years. Do yourself a favor put yourself first. It's not selfish. In fact, it is the most giving thing you can do.


Bob Mitera said...


You cannot help others if you are a) not around b) incapacitated.

Imagine what you can do as a super fit, Ironman finisher balancing life as it comes at you?

The next step is tomorrow.

fitncrafty said...

So proud for you Melissa.. I have been using this analogy for years! It does really work.

For awhile I had people actually tell me I should feel guilty for leaving my kids in childcare to workout.. Here comes that analogy again.

I am SO proud and happy for you! You are healing in so many ways!

Lori Bourne said...

Wow, this is an amazing post. Your mom would be super proud of how far you've come. It does take all of us time (so much time) to make these realizations but when we do, we can see how God was leading us in certain directions, putting people in our paths, etc.

This person who came back in your life - that was not an accident. If it didn't happen, you would not see the difference between the way you dealt with it then and the way you do now.

Go, Melissa!