The doctor’s appointment is over an hour away from where I live. I need to care for my eyes, especially as I have two potential eye conditions that can go awry quickly if left without care. For the past month it has felt like I have a loose stitch on the cornea I once had replaced and it is almost constantly in discomfort.
If I go to the appointment, will I still have money to buy my kids Christmas presents? If I go to the appointment, will they accept it if we end up eating peanut butter and jelly the next time I see them? Will they still love me if I spend the money I will need to spend on my eyes instead of spending that money on them?
On one level, this post has nothing to do with Domestic Violence. There’s a whole fleet of unrelated issues that I face as a person going through divorce at a distance from his children. On another level, this way of thinking is directly related to living with someone who taught me that caring for my needs was problematic and caused my family to suffer. Domestic Violence is not just about people hitting other people. Domestic Violence includes systematically tearing down others verbally until they forget how to care for their own needs.
As I look at the map, I hear those words telling me that I’m wasting money that my kids could use. At the same time, I need to take care of myself if my kids want to have a father who can see well enough to drive to see them. Sometimes I do not need to get another cup of coffee, but this particular need is not a question of whether or not I deserve a cup of coffee. There are legitimate needs in my life that need to be cared for despite being taught repeatedly that I needed to dismiss my own needs for the sake of my kids or the person who was once my wife.
It is okay to care for yourself. I have heard words that may be like those you might have heard or are hearing. Friend, it is okay to have legitimate needs and to fulfill those needs. There are times in life when it is absolutely valid to spend money to care for your needs, because those things are needs and not wants. You don’t need to be ashamed.
October has been Domestic Violence Awareness month since it was first introduced by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 1981. Regardless of the month, domestic violence is never okay, no matter the circumstances. If you or someone you know is in desperate need of help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224.