A whole lifetime ago, I was a yes woman. My commitment button was stuck on auto. Nothing made me hesitate; everything sounded like a worthy cause. Pick up a mentally ill church member from the hospital, take a meal to a stranger who had just had a baby, lead a team at the homeless shelter – why sure, I’d love to. I was a volunteer organizer’s dream.
Why would anyone do that to themselves, especially a mother with her own family to care for? Well for one, I was raised that way. My parents did not demonstrate boundaries; they never granted themselves permission to prioritize their own family first. Some people are raised in the church but I was raised by the church. We literally had a saying, “If the doors are open, we are there.” I can’t recall how many special events my siblings and I either missed or attended all alone because of a church conflict. Now that I am a parent, this makes my heart sad. But back then, I avoided thinking about what I needed or deserved because it felt selfish and shameful.