I can hold space for 100 people when I’m in my power.
But when I’m not, I can barely hold space for myself.
In the past three and a half years, I have barely had a break. I have been so focused on “go, go, go” and “achieve, achieve, achieve,” that I haven’t held much space for myself.
I recently got to a stage where I needed to stop. My soul was whispering to me, “Enough.”
I don’t have day-to-day help with my son, and I haven’t since I separated. I am solely responsible for nearly everything. I have every second weekend off, which comes with its own complications, and four hours of driving, but the day-to-day stuff is solely my responsibility.
I’m not sharing that to be a victim; I’m sharing that because I am a warrior—but even warriors have their limits. I have realised that I need a lot of downtime to recharge my batteries, and for the past six months, I haven’t given myself that space.
I notice when my batteries are low because I get snappy with my son. I control our day-to-day life rather than allowing it to flow. I play less and scroll more. I become out of alignment with myself. I notice the toxic habits creeping back in: too much time on social media, looking outside myself to friends for love. Less meditating, having slightly more raised voices, becoming more sensitive, and being out of the ocean instead of being in it.
One of my weaknesses is that I don’t ask for help. I am so used to hearing “No” that I expect it.
Recently, I listened to a beautiful clip on Instagram which said single mothers don’t get enough credit, and I cried. In that moment, I felt seen. I felt heard. I felt understood. These are the words that I had been longing to hear.
In this moment, I also felt deep within my soul that I needed a break. So I asked my parents to mind my son for the week (a school week), which I have never done in his nine years of life, so I could start focusing on myself.
I am a Family and Child Counsellor and have a massive project on the go, so did I feel guilty “not working”? Yes, absolutely. But my soul continued to whisper to me, “You need a break.” And that was cemented when my laptop screen, which is only a year old, smashed and needed to be replaced. You can imagine the much-needed tears that flowed. Tears of guilt, tears of not feeling good enough if I wasn’t achieving. The universe gives you what you need, not what you want.
So, I shifted the focus on everything outside of myself to go within. I set up my car as a “van” with a double mattress in the back. I packed my belongings and my puppy dog. And then I set off with two books in tow to the beach. My vision was to spend time on my own. I needed stillness.
I logged out of social media and read books.
I recharged by being near the ocean and hearing the waves crashing.
Rather than doing, I stayed still.
I ocean dipped daily.
I began deeply meditating again.
I journaled, and I walked and did Pilates almost daily.
I muted my friendship groups and started asking myself for the answers.
I listened within.
I permitted myself just to be.
Every day, I tuned into what my body needed, different from what I thought I should be doing.
I dipped in the ocean every day and surfed.
I brought joy back into my life.
I slowly came back into alignment with my soul and the ocean. I read two books and listened to three audiobooks in the space of four days. I broke the habit of scrolling, of living other people’s lives, and started focusing on my own. I asked myself daily, “What does my soul need today?”
My meditation practice became the space where I found the answers. It allowed for much-needed, more profound rest. I reconnected with my idols, Brené Brown and Glennon Doyle. I reread The Alchemist and The Four Agreements. I went back through all of my old books to re-educate my mind.
Why do we feel so guilty for taking a break?
At times, our responsibilities can become overwhelming. I love being a mum—it’s my greatest gift. The bond my son and I share is so special. And I love the work I do, but to be my best self, I need time to recharge. And I can’t feel guilty about that. It’s a necessity.
I was at burnout. I couldn’t fit another thing in. I was taking micro-breaks, but it wasn’t enough. So my yes turned into a no, and my complaints turned into solutions. My mind focused back on my being and my path.
And then everything started to come back together, and I felt whole again.
Taking a break isn’t a weakness; it’s a strength. It’s okay to spend time on yourself. It’s okay to put yourself first. (In fact, my son loved his week with his grandparents.)
Rest and self-care hold great power. When we make time to replenish our spirit, it empowers us to assist others from a place of abundance, and to do it with pleasure.
We can’t pour from an empty cup. It’s not selfish to love and take care of ourselves, or to prioritise our happiness—it’s vital.