Q: What is more important? Following your heart, mind, body, and soul, even if it means hurting others’ feelings and emotions, or continuing to live in denial to make your dying spouse, special needs child, and others happy?
A: Thank you for reaching out. I really feel for you and can’t imagine how hard your situation must be. It sounds like you’re dealing with two extremely stressful situations that take a tough emotional toll on you. While no one can tell you what to do or how to live your life, I do have a few suggestions that may guide you toward getting in touch with your most authentic thoughts, feelings, and desires.
When you ask “which is more important,” I’m wondering if you might ever consider that both can be equally important. Is there a way that you can honor your “heart, mind, body and soul” AND “make [your] spouse, child, and others happy”? This is something I suggest you explore, maybe even with a therapist, if you’re open to it.
If you could have both of those things, what would that look like? What would need to change? Thinking about your situation in that way may prompt some ideas or solutions. You might discover that you need more support at home, or maybe your spouse and child need more help so that they don’t rely solely on you as their only source of happiness, for example. (Those are just general examples, as I don’t know the intricacies of your situation at home).
If you feel like the challenges you’re facing are interfering with your mental and physical health, or your ability to function day-to-day, it could be a sign that you need more self-care or coping skills to reduce your stress and increase your sense of life balance and personal satisfaction. Practicing activities that calm and center you, like meditation or yoga, or doing things you enjoy, like seeing friends or taking a weekend away (whatever your preferences are) can go a long way.
Your situation at home sounds challenging, so I would highly recommend reaching out for support from others in whatever ways you can. Putting yourself first through self-care could help you feel better about the stressors in your life and may create a necessary amount of separation and boundaries from the hard stuff, so that you can still honor your own happiness and basic needs.
Emily Simonian, M.A., LMFT