In reply to the NaBloPoMo Prompt:
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
C.S. Lewis said, "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less." - How good are you of placing others before yourself?
I think the clincher of C.S. Lewis's quote, is the line - "not thinking less of yourself". That ability to put others first, not because we despise who we are - not because we are trying to patch a hole in ourselves - not because we don't have a "self" to be selfish about. He's saying our selflessness should stem from healthy motivation, stem from a place of self-acceptance and esteem - which allows us to pour that onto others as well. How I long for that perfect chemistry! For now, though, if I'm being honest, I must admit that I am completely selfish. I have extreme difficulty in putting others before myself. I could sit here and try to blame 100% of this on my bipolar - but the truth is, I've been selfish all my life. Bipolar sure doesn't help though. It's too all-consuming.
Several years back, I remember being at a friend's house, and they had a picture of their daughter in a frame that said "It's All About ME!" I cringed when I read it, because I thought to myself: "Why would anyone want to broadcast that?" If the girl was 5, I could maybe see the humor (even though I personally don't believe in instilling that mind-set in young children), but this girl was around 20. I was more embarrassed for her, than humored. I just know I wouldn't want my picture in that frame. But, nowadays, my face is right there - with that same selfish caption, so obvious - visible to everyone who knows me, I'm sure.
Bipolar has played upon my selfishness, and transformed it into a ravenous beast - always looking for the closest meal of attention - to satisfy its constant craving. The fact that I'm the only girl in the house doesn't help either. All of my guys (my husband and 2 little boys) adore me, and shower me with attention. My in-laws also spoil me. Just last night they came over (because I still have the flu), made dinner for us, cleaned up the dishes, and listened to me talk about my latest adventures in blog-land, as well as my recent expensive electronic purchases (gifted to me, I should add). I could hear myself speaking, and I was sick of myself. I wasn't trying to brag or anything - I was simply answering the questions they were asking me. They are kind people, so of course they listened and acted interested. And I think they sincerely are interested. But I know for a fact that I wouldn't be, if I had to listen to myself talk about myself. If I had to listen to me complain everyday about how much I don't feel good. To hear all about my most recent ailments. To hear about the meds I am or am not on. The moods I may or may not be having. The obsessions of my latest manic venture. It's disgusting, quite frankly, to be so self-absorbed - and to feel stuck there with myself, just soaking it up.
I know that greater happiness comes from putting others first. Motherhood - my definition of the epitome of selflessly serving another - has taught me that most beautiful lesson. When I first became a mother, I was filled with awe - this amazing new little creature, looking up at me, depending on me for every last thing. It was a precious gift and responsibility to be given. With my first son, it was an almost magical time. My son taught me what pure selflessness was, and I had never been happier doing anything in my life. His every need was anticipated before it actually became one. He was my new world. He took me out of my own selfish little universe, and helped me discover what life was all about. My selfishness was reduced by at least 75%, and I was deliriously happy in my newfound identity. I gave that precious little boy my everything, and he thrived in that environment. I was a wonderful, selfless mother. I will never forget that time, because it proved to me who I actually was, and who I wanted to be. It proved to me that I really do have the ability to love someone else more than myself. It reminds me now of what I am capable of - if I were well again. And sometimes that's strangely comforting.