The day after my grandmother had a massive stroke, I really needed to not have art class. It was a full day of classes and the sun was inviting me outside. It was almost unbearable to be inside trapped in my own thoughts and grief. I made it through my first class but was only half there. My second class only one student showed up. Apparently the other students were also being invited out by the sunshine.
With as much kindness as I could muster, I told my art student that I meant to call her; I was hoping we could push her art class back an hour. She was very nice about it and gave me a little bit of a hard time about it in fun. I instantly apologized and told her it was rude of me, and that I would teach the class. She said something that has resonated in me for over two weeks now. Her reply was, “Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.”
She made an excuse about wanting to do something else anyway and left. I was consumed with guilt but locked up the studio and went and sat in the sunshine. I really did need to be left my thoughts and get some fresh air. Her words continued to resonate in me.
Why am I afraid to ask for what I need? Why am I so quick to put others (even strangers) before myself? As I’ve pondered this, I began to think that it was a female thing. That we are taught to be polite, to take care of others, and we generally put ourselves last. But I don’t think that’s true. I think that men have the same issues. Is it cultural? Is it societal? I’m not sure. What I am sure is that I’m going to make more effort to tell the truth faster and to ask for what I need. I have become better at this since I had my son, but still haven’t been able to shake the guilt associated with it. Why should we feel guilty for taking care of ourselves first? After all, if we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we take care of anyone else….