How Do You Like Your Self-Care? Straight Up, with a Twist of Alanon.
BY: TAMI HARPER WINN
Tears running down my face, I try to stay between the two dotted white lines in front of me. I am on the way to the grocery store after a twelve hour day while on the phone with a son who needs me to watch his kids so he can go to a meeting. I am exhausted. I am totally drained. I cannot give an ounce more of myself. I tell my son “no”. He needs to learn how to take the boys if he wants his sobriety bad enough. We all do what we need to do to stay sober. Hell, I haven’t been to a meeting in over three weeks and I know I’m treading dangerous water. I am by no means a stellar example of what great sobriety looks like but I am pretty dang real. Life is happening around me and I’m doing the best I can.
I tell him to reach out to others. I do it all the time still. I hate turning down anyone with any sort of help that is in recovery. I know that when I need it they have been there for me. But, I also need to not turn myself down in my own recovery as well. So, what does that look like?
It means suiting up and showing up for me. It means self-care – something I knew nothing about before recovery. If I don’t do this then how can I help anyone else? That question was posed to me by my Alanon sponsor when I first entered the program. That’s right – I’m a double-winner. I not only have the disease of alcoholism but I also have the wonderful tendency to put your needs above mine as well. It’s a crazy match of components. It’s a sure-fire recipe for disaster if left unchecked. It was explained to me that a double-winner meant that I got both sides of the coin. But I’ll save that explanation for a different time.
Now that I’m blessed to be in need of two sponsors and two programs I have a full understanding of who I really I am. Well, maybe not a full understanding, but a dang better one than I’ve ever had. Armed with that knowledge, I am able to see when I am about ready to crash and burn. I can gauge when I am off balance somewhere in my life. It doesn’t come quite naturally yet (being able to know what I’m off balance with) but, I do have a way to figure out where I am off balance.
So in doing inventories I see that right now I am not treating myself with the level of love and respect that I would treat another. I am working long hours. I am sleeping sporadically. I eat great for two days and terrible for three days. I exercise very little. I am over-extending myself in helping others – mainly my grown children. I am stretched in all directions and I’m about to split right down the middle.
I’d like to say it’s as easy as recognizing it, but that would be a lie. It requires action. When you haven’t been to a meeting in quite awhile or spoken to your sponsor in even longer, it makes the action that much harder. As I continue to defeat myself I remember that I have not drank today and that is a miracle. I try to hold on to the hope that I’ll catch myself before I fall. But, the truth is, I can’t catch myself at all. That is the delusion they speak of. The only one that can catch me is my higher power.
Tonight, I told my son “no”. That gets harder and harder as I distance myself from my recovery. But, I still said “no”. For an Alanon that is huge. It’s like not taking a drink today. Exhausted, I lay out my boundaries for tonight. I give my daughter a half hour of uninterrupted talking time and she looks disappointed that I would put a time limit on it. But she honors it. I do so enjoy long conversations with her, they just happen so late at night that I get to bed even later. I don’t want my friends coming over even though I thoroughly enjoy them and miss them terribly. I put my phone to “priority calls” only and I crawl into bed at 9:30.
I can only do for myself today what I can. I only have 24 hours. I can only stay sober and sane one day at a time. Tomorrow is another day. I get to try to stay sober again and try to not to hurt others as I go. I get to redefine today’s boundaries and honor them.
I stare at my coworker’s wall that has maps on it with little colored stick pins designating all the places he has traveled and I sit in awe. I want that one day. I am beginning to figure out what I want and don’t want. Again, this is a huge shift in perception. Now, I need to figure out the road map to get to where I want to go. So, I daydream at work. I look for travel deals, and I work over time to accrue the vacation time to escape. It seems all so redundant. Work for time off and then need time off from the work that you did to get time off. I’ll find a balance. Self-care is where it’s at. Back to Alanon I go. Head in hand, feeling pretty silly that I can’t get this figured out. Thank goodness they don’t shoot their wounded either.
~ Tami Harper Winn ~
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