It feels like I've been focusing on others for decades. Even when I was young, I always was concerned more about others than myself. That's not really a good thing. It's really kinda pointless because I can't change anything for or about someone else.
This was really brought home last night. My youngest has moved to Boston to attend Boston University and complete her master's degree. She had an unexpected and rather dramatic housing snafu. My first impulse was to fly out and swoop in, but, luckily in hindsight, I was working. I had students in front of me who depended on me to be their teacher. There were a couple times when I had to control my face as I empathized with my panicked and frustrated daughter. Now, I can see she'll be okay.
Lately, my older daughter has been struggling, as well. She's dealing with some health issues which will require long term intervention. Even though she's only 23, she's facing it head on with bravery. She'll succeed but it won't be easy. There isn't much I can do for her except be there, let her know I support her and will learn whatever I can about her struggle to be an informed, stabilized force for her. I'm just so proud of her for tackling this when many would just ignore it, hoping it would just go away.
As I think about last night, I'm aware that I'm falling into old "worrying about others" habits. I wondered if I bothered my co-workers as I worked out some of my worries by talking with them. Everyone was kind, or tried to joke to lift my spirits, or was sympathetic, but I worried that I was talking too much about myself and my perceived problems. The reality is maybe, MAYBE, they thought I was a bit of a hovering mom (and they'd be right) or they didn't think too much of it and were just talking.
Then my husband let me know just how discouraged he is with his workplace. He works for the government and is considered "an essential employee." His workplace is a depressing place and everyone is having a hard time keeping spirits up. This breaks my heart. My husband has completely supported me even though I'm in a field that doesn't make a livable income and has been "Dad" to my daughters. Of course, this came up last night, too. I mentioned how I would support my husband even if it meant moving or changing our lives. Once again, I caught myself putting others absolutely before myself. It's not that I wouldn't do that for my husband, I would. It's that I basically did a data dump on the things I value for myself. By the end of the conversation, I realized I could support him and still do what's important to me, whether that's staying at my current dream job or applying myself in some other application of my skills.
My focus is shifting. My daughters are 21 and 23 years old and need to manage their difficulty with my support. They know I have their backs, emotionally and in practical ways. My husband needs to know we are a team so hold each other up. One thing is certain, I'm committed to making this next phase in my life one where I can focus on myself and my partner so we can truly enjoy life.