Do you volunteer?
Because I’d like to make the case for adding volunteerism to your arsenal of healing weapons. And here’s why.
You make new friends.
You gain new skills.
You create a difference.
You expand your passions.
And most important, I think, is that you begin to see your worth through the eyes of your peers and fellow contributors. That piece on its own has so much healing power!
Initially, when my kids were still young and I’d sign up to help with class parties or coach soccer, my reason was to be near them, just to simply have more time together—since I had to sacrifice so much to shared custody with my ex—and engage with their experiences as often as possible.
As they got older, and more involved in extracurricular activities, my volunteer commitments grew along with them. This continued to be about our bond, but also turned into a personal opportunity for me, so that I might challenge myself in new ways and tap into some previously unknown potential. To begin to believe in myself!
Our family world for 6+ years has been fine arts. While my daughter, a dancer and vocalist, doesn’t do any performing now that she’s in college, my son’s in his last year of high school marching band, drama, and show choir. For the duration of both his and her participation I’ve been a stage mom, helping with events, serving as a board officer, and loving every moment with my kids and their friends.
Because my son is graduating in May and I’ll be resigning from these long-term commitments, reflection has set in. I’m realizing for the first time how much these efforts for my kids has outright and consistently benefitted me. That my volunteerism has shown me who I am—not who I believed I was (or wasn’t) for too many years because of a misguided and damaging abuser—and in how many ways I’m valuable.
I’ve learned that I’m personable, and a kickass communicator. I excel with details but also do well with substantive overview. I’m a team player, and can help take the lead, too. Oh, and I’m high functioning!
Turns out these are things I needed to learn about myself as I addressed my experiences in abuse, and in so doing began to understand how much I had to shed and discard at the same time that I had rebuild AND build anew who I truly am. Who I wanted to be.
Could I claim the same outcome for myself if I hadn’t devoted myself to my kids and their programs in tandem with my post-abuse journey? I’m thinking no, to be honest.
I needed to give of myself in these ways to see it return. And boy, I can’t even quantify that gift.
Are you convinced?
Some ideas to get started are to ask your kids’ teachers if they need help, join PTSA or booster clubs, sign up to head a fundraising committee, or become a board officer for one of the programs in which they’re involved.
Don’t have kids? Connect with a local pet shelter, long-term care facility, food pantry, or a nonprofit governing board. Because giving of your time, talents, and attention in an area that makes sense for your interests can and will open the door to new experiences and growth for you.
I’m here to tell you, hands down, it’s so worth it.
[Photo credit to C.A.] Pictured is me, at center, and my daughter from the nose up, as we helped the girls in my son’s show choir get stage-ready before their performance last weekend.