I apologized to my husband today.
I started to feel a bit under the weather earlier in the week, but by sleeping in an hour and taking extra vitamins I was over it in a few days.
Towards the end of the week my husband started feeling sick. He was moaning and groaning about his head, and stayed in bed for 3 days.
Man cold, I said to myself.
We had company over during the weekend. My brother had come out with his family and I took care of all the meals and entertaining while my husband slept and only came out for the briefest moments to say hi or take a quick shower.
On one occasion he got up just to change the sheets because he said he sweated through them.
Woah, he’s laying it on thick I thought.
Then on Monday, I couldn’t get out of bed.
I had a splitting headache, hot stuffy sinuses, and exhausted like I couldn’t believe.
After getting my son up and ready, I asked my husband how he would feel if I went back to bed.
He looked at me like I was crazy for asking, and said, “I don’t care. Do what you need to do.”
What? I don’t care? His response woke me up.
Why did I care so much, if he didn’t? He didn’t look at soldiering on through sickness as a badge of honor or an alter to die on. In fact, he didn’t think about it at all.
It was ME who was asking permission from him to be sick and take care of myself.
Here’s the thing about beliefs: we don’t see them, we just believe them.
This belief that I don’t get sick days has gone on since I can remember.
I started examining my twenties when I worked 2 jobs, or worked full time and went to school full time, and the fact that with ALL of my jobs if I didn’t go to work, I didn’t get paid.
Or in the case of being self employed in the past decade: if I don’t go to work I don’t get paid AND have to pay someone else out of pocket to cover me.
But this isn’t all.
As women, we are tough. We can self sacrifice like nobody’s business. We will put everyone else first at all costs regardless of how shitty we feel…and if we become mothers, that amplifies times a hundred.
We tell ourselves that no one else can do what we do and that we are too needed to ever slow down.
So, we look at self-care as luxuries to pamper ourselves, instead of the gritty unsexy necessities of life like listening to our bodies when they are sick and resting when we need to.
That’s REAL self care.
I realized that I have drunk a Kool-Aid I am no longer interested in.
I want to feel like my husband.
He didn’t ask my permission to be sick, he didn’t feel bad about staying in bed when he felt like garbage and needed to take care of himself, and I can promise you that he did not think that it made him any less of a man, father, husband, or anything else.
He was sick, so he went to bed. End of story.
And when I was sick, he told me to do what he would do: go to bed, AND he was way nicer about it. He made me meals, rubbed my back, started my car for me when I had to go out, and made me feel cared for.
My belief around what I am allowed with sick days is bullshit, and not only that, it’s bullshit I was trying to push onto my husband.
I believed that if I’m not allowed to be sick, he sure as hell isn’t allowed to either, hence “the man cold.”
It’s not fair.
Our unrealistic expectations about ourselves is exactly that: unrealistic and they are keeping us small.
They encourage us to put our needs last, reinforcing that we are less worthy, less deserving, than those around us.
These subtle beliefs, the ones that we are constantly swimming in, are the ones which can wake us up the most because they are the foundation of all the others.
When I realized all this, I apologized to my husband.
I’ll be honest here, I felt a lot of resistance, but I also know that real connection requires a vulnerability to show up in ways that aren’t always comfortable.
I didn’t know if he was going to say, “I told you so,” or if it would start a long discussion of all the things I’ve done wrong, or really what he would do at all.
So while he was feeding my son I approached him placing my hand on his shoulder and said, “I’m sorry.”
I apologized for not being more understanding when he was sick, and explained my realization to him.
He looked at me surprised, and said, “Don’t worry about it. Go get some sleep, it was the only thing that made me feel better.”
So I went back to bed.
I’d love to hear from you now: Do you allow yourself sick days? And how sick do you have to be? Why do you think we’ve believed this nonsense for so long? Tell me in the comments below!