Let’s be real — we’ve all heard this phrase, “Family over everything” since we were younger. It’s a phrase that has been instilled in us early on to remind us that no matter what happens and no matter who else comes into our lives, we shouldn’t forget our family. After all, they are our blood, and we should be willing and ready to do anything for them, right?
NO, and I’ll explain why. Let me tell you a story about something that I’ve been struggling with for years, and quite frankly, I’m still struggling with it at this very moment.
My dad has a successful sip and paint business that I was helping him with consistently from 2014 to 2020. That’s SIX YEARS of updating websites, managing social media pages, communicating with customers via email, creating marketing materials, and so much more. That’s a lot, right? Especially when you factor in me working, going to school, attending therapy sessions, working on my blog, and trying to have some free time. It was impossible to manage at times, and I’ve had more mental breakdowns in that timeframe than I can count.
I don’t say all of this for you to feel sorry for me. I say all of this to say that I ran myself RAGGED trying to show up for my dad, and I neglected my own well-being by not showing up for myself. I was under the impression that because my dad didn’t have anyone else to help him and he was my father, I was obligated to help him. I sacrificed my time, energy, and everything in between to help my dad, and I didn’t give myself the choice to say, “No, I can’t help you right now.” I didn’t give myself the same time and energy I deserved to care for my mental health, as I thought helping my family was more important.
This has been a popular topic in my therapy sessions, as I’m currently working on and processing through the guilt that comes with putting myself first when it comes to my family. But, I’m learning that I need to abandon this idea that family comes first before everything. I come first.
I’m always thinking, “Well, if I don’t help my dad, I might make his business fail”, but that’s a lot of weight on my shoulders for a business that isn’t mine. I love my dad and my family, but it’s time that I stop putting myself on the backburner. No more running myself ragged, no more feeling guilty for being unavailable, no more neglecting myself. I’ve come to the conclusion that when I feel that I have the time and mental capacity to show up for my dad, I will, but I will no longer make that a priority in my life.
“‘Family over everything’ is a dangerous way of looking at the world. ‘Everything’ covers a lot of territory — personal growth, education, career, duty, honor. To suggest that everything should be compromised if family is in question, is a big ask.
– David Devine