Taking Care of Ourselves

self care

Who do you think about first thing in the morning or last thing at night before you fall asleep? Who do you feed first in the morning? Remember the airplane instructions about putting the oxygen mask on yourself first before you put it on your child or even the hurt person next to you? There are reasons for those.

When I was a kid coming up in the world, the last thing I thought about was myself. Sure, there were a few times that were carefree, like I remember playing Red light, Green light; Red Rover; Hide-and-Seek; Say-say-oh-playmate; Mother May I; all those games that kids play in their neighborhoods or towns growing up. But underlying it all was that elephant of drunkenness, anger, and violence. Towering over the elephant stood the giraffe of secrecy.

On the outside we had to look the part of perfect normalcy. Very proper, well-cared for, every hair in place, not a bruise showing, no tears no tears, mustn’t let the world think you are anything but absolutely ordinary. No, more than that: extraordinary. After all, my father was an officer of the law. If his children couldn’t be expected to behave in public, whose could? Our outsides, of course, terribly mismatched our insides. We hurt, we ached, we carried bruises (some physical, some emotional) . . . we carried secrets about drunkenness and violence, secrets in the words only our childlike voices could tell.

In Al-Anon and in therapy I’m learning to take care of myself – not better care – but to actually take care of myself for the first time. Dori (my sponsor) helps me to see my limitations and what I can and cannot do, before I actually hit the wall of exhaustion (as I’ve done). There is a whole chapter in the Al-Anon Big Book, How Al-Anon Works: For Families and Friends of Alcoholics called -oddly enough- Taking Care of Ourselves. Hey, is there some plagiarism going on here? How did they know I was going to write this blog?

What’s best about the Al-Anon Big Book, for me, is it’s simple enough that I can understand it when I’m distressed. Because when I’m in a situation and I need it, if the language were too complicated or flowery, I wouldn’t be able to absorb, intelligence not withstanding. Intelligence goes straight out the window when one is panicked and in distress.

There is a strong connection, in many ways, between the techniques taught in the Al-Anon and in the AA Big Book. For instance, I was pleasantly surprised to read under the SETTING PRIORITIES AND LIMITS section of this chapter, the acronym for H.A.L.T., which is usually often discussed in the AA Big Book.

This reminds me of my doctor’s appt yesterday for a re-evaluation of my chronic fatigue syndrome. I’ve been feeling much worse, dragging all the time, and lots of “brain fog”, which is upsetting. Well, the nurse took at least 20 vials of blood and I have to go back in a week to get more blood for a cortisol draw, since that needs to be done in the morning, and to go over the results of the lab tests thus far.

Here’s hoping they’ll have some answers for me. Even the slightest hormone mishap can cause a lot of fatigue, and if that can be corrected, I’m all over it. Taking care of myself is one of my number one priorities right now! 😉

How about you? Are you taking care of yourself?

Priorities

I’ve been doing too much. Going to about four Al-Anon meetings a week, attending two lectures on alcoholism followed by sharing times afterwards, which amounts to two 3-hour evenings a week, reading all the literature on alcoholism I can get my hands on and then some. I had to take back all the books I had taken out from the library on the subject. My sponsor made me. 😛 I couldn’t exactly take back the 30+ I have downloaded to my Kindle. 😦

I’ve been accepted to work on a collaboration with 13 other writers. Also, just been accepted to do a weekly book review for a blog. So I have to, I guess, RE-prioritize my life.

It’s not about the alcoholic in my life. It’s about me. Starting today, I’m paring down my reading to Al-Anon related literature (mainly the Big Book of Al-Anon and my meditation books, like One day at a time in Al-Anon), and the books I need to read for review.

Also, I’m writing a non-fiction book this year called “Undertow: Growing Up With An Alcoholic Sister.” I’ve only written the outline so far, but that took some serious work.

So, I’m only going to keep my favorite one or two Al-Anon meetings. Only going to the skills building and sharing meeting on Tuesday night. One or two open talks. LOTS of rest and sleep. Walks with Lucy so I can talk with God about all that’s going on (that’s whom I choose to call my Higher Power; if it helps you, fine).

The life unexamined is not worth living. Didn’t someone famous say that? 😉