Self sacrifical or self destructive?

Being honest is sometimes the hardest thing to do.

Being honest with yourself – realizing your limits and not trying so hard to be what you aren’t.

And being honest with others – letting them know that you have limits and asking them to respect them.

I have a hard time with both these concepts.

I aspire to be “superwoman”. Not really, but in the sense that I want to be one of these people that has everything under control – that works 8 hours a day, comes home and cooks dinner, cleans the house, calls up friends and family and invites them over, catches up on emails and then still has time for a glass of wine in the evening and a good book. I  want everything to be scheduled and planned out for me and for everything to go like clockwork. I always try to be punctual and on time,  I try to always finish projects way before the deadline, always be available and never let anyone down.

Sound impossible – it is!

But that doesn’t stop me from trying my hardest to achieve it even if it pushes me to breaking point.

One thing I’ve realized is that the one thing stronger than my desire to have everything together is my desire for everyone to think I have everything together . Even if I’m absolutely stressed out, freaking out and about to keel over and pass out  I will STILL take on new projects and more work if I am asked to. Why?  Because I don’t want to let anyone down, I hate disappointing anyone so I feel that I can never say “no”, even if it’s the wisest thing to do.

After some serious thinking I’m discovering that self-sacrificial often crosses the line into self-destructive for me. I can go for days on too little sleep, too little food and work like a horse, only to absolutely collapse sooner or later.  The worst thing is I only rest as much as is absolutely necessary before I’m back on my feet, trying to please everyone again. No matter how much I want rest and to take a break – I don’t let myself because some part of me still feels like I don’t “deserve” it.

This was highlighted to me this morning, when after eating a small breakfast I was anxiously cleaning the kitchen. I KNEW I had eaten too little, but I also knew that eating more meant I would have to take a solid hours break to rest and allow the pain to subside and the food to digest. I was frustrated because I knew what I should do for my health’s sake,  yet I felt the compelling urge to work, work, work. My mom asked me what was wrong and I blurted out :” I’m just frustrated that I have to choose between walking around hungry all day or doing what I need to”. Of course, she immediately started thinking of ways to lighten my work load – but whenever she came up with a suggestion I would respond with “No, no it’s fine. I can handle it”.

Could I handle it while still taking proper care of myself – no I couldn’t. Yet somewhere  in the back of my mind there is an instinctive impulse to put myself and my needs last – almost to the point of neglect. I already feel like such a waste of space when I HAVE to take time off to rest because of the pain I’m in, that I will actually restrict in order to be able to work. Is this wrong? Absolutely! But I justify it as being self-sacrificial; although the truth is that it’s much closer to self destructive.

I know I am needed and there is always work to be done, and if I don’t learn to respect my limits I’m going to keel over and die one of these days. But some part of me believes I don’t deserve rest or proper care like everyon e else,. Somewhere deep down I feel like I need to work myself to death while others can relax because I need to prove my worth.  I’m trying so hard to be perfect, but I need to learn that no matter how much I do or don’t do – I can’t earn other’s love.

Those that matter in my life love me who I am, not for what I do. And if I can’t learn to take care of myself now, how will I be able to take care of others in the long run.


As a side note – I did exceptionally well with my eating today after letting someone else take over some of my responsibilities. Even my usual pain was lessened a significant degree.  So I think a big step in my recovery will be letting go of the things I don’t have to do for others in favor of things I NEED to do for myself. A hard concept to grasp, but practice makes perfect.

Are you the type of person that thinks of everyone else first and yourself last? 

Where do you think is the balance between being self sacrifical and when does it cross the line into being self-destructive?



  1. I have quite a bit of stomach discomfort after eating as well and from what I’ve gathered over time is that this is normal during refeeding and it’s our digestive muscles strengthening and working harder. There might be other things going on for you; obviously I’m not diagnosing anything, but I came across this article and it seems like it’s to be expected when one tries to eat more after having anorexia.

    I’m looking more into it now to see how long I’m supposed to expect gas and bloating after eating. I really hope you can find a way to work through it and overcome it and if it’s not some sort of intolerance then I think the best thing to do might be just go with the flow for a few months and hope that your digestive tract works itself stronger.

    • Thank you so much for the link. I’m sure this plays into the equation a lot, although the majority of my pain started pre-refeeding which is why I started restricting again in the first place (I was in pain any time I ate anything pretty much).

      But I am really interested in how long to expect the typical re-feeding bloating, gass etc, so if you find anything more on the topic, please do send me a link.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. You and I are both the same in that regard. I can never say No to anyone, I must be the one making the lunches, cleaning the kitchen/bathroom, mowing the lawn so my poor dad doesn’t have to, doing the dishes, making sure that everyone is happy and satisfied, while thinking of myself as last on the list. I do not know how to not be that way…yet, it is self-destructive because we forget about ourselves and our own needs in the process. I think that we must just learn to take even 5 minutes to do something that we enjoy and not feel guilty about it!
    Yay! I am so glad that you have someone else in charge now. Doesn’t it feel like a weight is lifted?
    Take care sweetheart. Love you and always thinking about you!

  3. I can relate to this 100%,Leelu,I really can.
    You know,I never want to be a burden. The fact I still have to live with my parents at this very moment because I can’t affors an own appartment is more than just bothering; I am constantly afraid that people might think I was sort of a “parasite” – an actually grown-up young woman who only stays at home because it’s easier this way when not needing to be self-dependent so much. Therefore,I try to do as much as I can here and take over the responsibilty for anything,really,to not make it appear like I was only taking but never giving.
    However,that is only ONE reason actually – I also do it because I want my mom to be happy and to protect her from “unnecessary” stress as she’s stressing too much about so many thing anyways.
    AND I also do it to… well,to justify my self-destruction somehow. Because this way,my dad can’t say I was “selfish” anymore ’cause I’m not destroying me for my own reasons,you know?
    It sounds weird and it’s complicated,but I guess you understand what I want to say,don’t you?

  4. I think the self-sacrificing is very much tied to eating disorders, as some of the above commentators mentioned their own experience with it. “Justifying self-destruction” in a way… I think it’s kind of the “woe is me” thing as well… EDs, although a very private thing, are also something we use to draw attention to us — typically because we feel a lack of love or that kind of attention, so when people worry about us, it makes us feel a little better at least. And when we’re recovering and everyone thinks everything is fine, what do you think happens? We try to destroy ourselves again. Obviously, that’s not the SOLE reason we do that, but it’s definitely one of the reasons because EDs are very emotionally and mentally complex with several root causes.

    I remember in the worst days of my ED, I didn’t care about myself and didn’t find myself worthy of anything, especially not food or care. But now that I’m much better, I think so much differently. Being semi-starved messes with your brain. You feel like you’re in dark hole and will never see the light… but with a few good pushes in the right direction, you DO see the light and you end up realizing how immature it all was. I mean, I had an ED, still am working on combating some of my old habits, but I think I have the right to say that EDs ARE for the most part immature responses to… life! When you deal with everything in a more balanced way, you realize that.

  5. Oh lovely reading this made me so sad, you really really do deserve to rest and care! You deserve everything good that life has to offer as you are an amazing person Leelu. I know it’s really difficult to let go of the feelings you have about your own worth but I think slowing down a bit and realising that it is okay to say no to things sometimes is good for you. It’s not possible to do everything you want to do everyday, there just aren’t enough hours! But you can do what is important and one of those things is looking after yourself.

    I completely believe in you and I know that eventually you will be able to overcome your self-destructive habits! Stay strong 🙂

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