• Alexandra Stockwell

Asking this Changed Everything

I am not sure which of these has been more determinative…

  1. I am the oldest child in my family, and the only girl.

  2. My parents divorced when I was in elementary school.

  3. I really like helping people.

… or if it’s something else entirely, but for as long as I can remember I have known I was much better at being there for someone else than I was at being there for myself.

Noticing what others need, and taking action to make it happen, has come easily.

Noticing what I need, and then taking action to make it happen… not so much.

In each phase of my life, I can think of examples which illustrate this.

When I was studying to get into medical school with a group of friends, after each exam, we would all head back to where I lived, Everyone would crash and I would often start cooking. So by the time everyone woke up refreshed, I felt calm and relaxed AND I was ready to serve a good dinner.

The night before we got married, we hosted family at our place. When my husbands’ father and his wife arrived after I had put all the food away and was ready to head to my hotel, I got everything back out in order to make them feel comfortable and welcome.

When each of my four kids were born, I made sure they ate and slept, often forgetting to do both myself. My guess is that you can relate, and have your own version of these kinds of stories.

When I had a 6 month old and a 2.5 year old, I remember reading a book.

The whole book wasn’t that interesting to me, but in the introduction the author described how important it is for a mother to ask herself “what does everyone in this family need right now, including me?”


Including me…

How the heck was I going to figure out what I needed too?

It became almost like a religious practice for me, to first of all be courageous and radical enough to remember the question–even when I had no idea what the answer was.

Over time, I not only remembered the question but I started to think of a few answers… and eventually I learned to implement them without a problem.

It was magnificent to experience that I could actually see to everyone needs – including my own!

While we are sheltering in place, I think of this question.  It is so relevant.

Are you tending your children, plus working (or figuring out how it works when you don’t work), making sure everyone in your family has what they need in the way of basic supplies while also trying to make sure they spend the day in ways that are as meaningful as possible?

Are you newly navigating having your partner at home all the time, discovering his “work voice” or the way she looks angry but is just concentrating on a spreadsheet? Experiencing new stress and anxiety that is the natural consequence of being together 24/7?  Plus, there’s the economy and so much sorrow, uncertainty, and loss.

It’s so easy to let go of what YOU need.

I am writing this to inspire you not to, to inspire you to ask “what does everyone in this family need right now, including me?”

Whatever you come up with, find a way to make it happen – because it’s sure to be good for everyone if you do!

As you ask yourself, and start acting on what you discover, let me know what you are discovering about yourself. What are you discovering about your relationship?

With pleasure and purpose,

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Copyright 2020 Alexandra Stockwell, MD