A few days ago I met a friend at the grocery store, whom I had not seen for a while.
‘Wow you look tired’ she said reflecting genuine concern, “Is everything okay with you?’
Upto that point I had felt fine. My day had gone smooth; the spring sunshine was giving me wings, I had been humming while shopping and nothing had been too much….until someone came along and told me I looked tired.

Instantly I felt depleted, my energies went south and the shopping bags I was holding doubled their weight. I hauled myself and my groceries into my car and drove home moping
Stupid woman! What gave her the right to say that! It might have been with good intention but still!… you don’t do things like that; especially when you’ve not seen each other in a while. It’s like saying, ‘Wow, you’ve grown old!; implying you’ve aged while they haven’t.

After being grumpy a bit more while cooking dinner, it started to dawn on me, I could well be angry with my old time friend because she had pointed out an inconvenient truth. Why else would it influence me the way it did? If it had been but an ignorant remark, I could have questioned her judgment and smiled about it. Now, I was angry because, deep down inside I knew she was right and didn’t want to hear it!

Like many caretakers, I often make the mistake of directing more energy towards the expectations of the outside world than my own needs.
While I make sure the flowers are blooming in the gardens of others, by giving them water in time and making sure they are in a comfortable space, I tend to forget to weed my own space.
It’s a slow and sneaky process that almost goes unnoticed. An illusionary trick of the outside world to make us forget and tend to ourselves, dating back to old times when humanity was still geared to live in groups and tend to each other.

In this day and age however, evolution is steering us towards individual survival, tending to ourselves first so we are in good shape to then contribute to the greater good.
I call it The Law of the Oxygen Masks, similar to what they tell you aboard an airplane:

… in case of emergency when the oxygen masks drop down, place it over your own nose and mouth first before helping others.

It may sound a bit cruel, especially if its your loved one sitting next to you in need of help, yet at the same time it’s very necessary to make that switch and learn to take care of yourself first.
It’s what you’re here for, to make your own garden bloom, so others can enjoy your beauty as well.