I have been considering this word a lot lately.
My very recent story is that I left my husband in pursuit of me. Of my truth. Of my dreams.
Why? Because my SELF was being sacrificed in our relationship.
And I don't mean that he demanded this or that of me, but in subtle ways, yes, he did. He demanded what he needed, and the direction I needed to grow could not meet his needs.
I was accused of being neglectful to our family.
I was in one conversation supported as I reached further, set new goals, stretched to grow in new ways. In the next conversation questioned, suspected, and accused.
Essentially, I was giving up ME in that relationship.
So I left it. (and it wasn't easy... in fact, it took years.)
I have been supported by some and questioned by some. The questions come when I say I was sacrificing me.
"But sacrifice is a part of marriage, a part of motherhood..." they say.
Yes, to some extent, I agree.
How much is sacrificed within that relationship, and moreover, how much is sacrificed in the definition of Self within the Relationship? That is the critical question.
As a wife I sacrificed dinner dates, happy hours, friends, the things you do as a young, child-free (pet-free), single person, to spend more time with my husband. This was mostly an easy sacrifice. I wanted to be with my husband. He was after all, my best friend, my support, my chosen partner in life. Did I miss the fun friendships and interactions with friends? Yes. Of course I did. Did I regret not going out with them? Not really. It was important to me, it was a priority to me, to be with my husband. And we had good times together. We really, truly did. And, I grew. My Self grew, through our sharing. My Self grew within our relationship.
As a mother I sacrificed my career. My days became focused on my family and my home. There were groceries to buy, meals to plan and cook, there was cleaning, diapers, laundry. And yes, there was also fun - playing, engaging with my children, long walks, outings, and playdates. I found a new social group through other new mothers. My life shifted in a new direction. In a good direction. One in which I also grew. My Self grew. This too was an easy sacrifice. I wanted most of all to be with my children, to organize my life in such a way that I could be there for them in the best possible manner.
And during all this time, I continued to stay true to my Self, and I did that best through my yoga practice, and eventually through my yoga teaching. Yoga became increasingly important to ME, especially as my relationship with my husband turned.
When my kids both were of school age, I began to reach out and to DO more. More of what filled ME up. More of what allowed my SELF to grow. I taught more classes, added more to my schedule.
And YET, when my kids were sick, I sacrificed my teaching... and I was happy to do it. I was happy to be home for them, to comfort them how they needed me to.
I was happy to sacrifice my teaching and practice when there was a field trip, an activity at school, a school holiday. I was happy to sacrifice my yoga so we could enjoy a family vacation, a day of skiing, a special event.
And still, within my relationship, I was accused of neglect.
And it took me years to figure this out, but eventually I realized I was losing my Self.
So you tell me that sacrifice comes with being a wife, with being a mother, and I do agree. Yet, how much sacrifice is within balance of Self? That is the critical question. How much sacrifice still allows for personal growth within the definition of your relationship, within your own story, and how much causes loss of Self?
Only you can answer that question.
But I invite you to explore it and see what comes up.
Kristen is the creator of Indieflow Yoga and Yoga For A Cause. She lives and teaches in Denver, Colorado