Felix Scardino, LCSW, a friend of mine wrote: Take care of yourself while you try to understand that you cannot support another person unless you keep your own footing. The following analogy helps me: It will not serve either of us if I jump into quicksand with a person to save him. I’ll best help the person if I stand strong and throw him or her a rope. To care for myself I might need to take a break from listening or even choose not to be with another if their problems overwhelm me.
My reflection: It took me fourteen-years to learn how to live this advice. At my first Al-Anon meeting, I heard these words, but they made no sense to me. How could I take care of myself when my son was dying? In time, I learned how to Stay Close, but out of the chaos.
Today’s Promise to consider: Many of us have thrown ourselves into the fire as we try to help our addicted loved ones. When we lose ourselves, we are of no help to our families, our children, or ourselves. Today, I’ll take care of myself so that I am able to take care of others.
As always, great advice …
Oh, this is such sage advice! I am reminded of it every time I fly when the flight attendant says, “If and when oxygen masks drop from the ceiling, fasten your own before assisting others.” What a great metaphor for life! It’s not instinctive, but with practice, it really can save one’s sanity. ❤️
years ago in the midst of my son’s first relapse I was reeling. I had no understanding of addiction and thought the chaos was behind us. His relapse hit me like a freight train. We had put him out but had helped him get into a sober living house. One day he called me and asked me to meet him for coffee. When we met he said I’m using and I don’t know what to do (he had been kicked out of the house). It was beyond devastating to have no answer for him other than “go to a meeting”. I told him I don’t know either. I did however know I could not bring him back home. I am a woman of faith and when I went home and prayed I felt God give me this. ” I will always love you, you will never be without my love, I will always pray for you, every day I will carry you to God in prayer, and finally as long as I see you walking towards recovery I will help you in any way I can that is healthy for us BOTH”. This has served us both well over the years. There have been many more relapses after varying periods of sobriety but our relationship is intact, our family is intact. Today he is still struggling but I can see progress. We all love him very much and want nothing more than to see him well, we have all learned to stay close and remain hopeful that he will one day be able to maintain his sobriety and live a full life free of heroin.
We have to throw ourselves into the fire, that is our nature. However, at some point the pain gets too great and this creates our personal path to our own recovery. We reach out to others and ask for help! We learn to pour out all of our knowledge and pour in the knowledge of recovery. This can be a long and difficult journey but it eventually leads us to a renewed sense of peace and serenity. Prayers for all who are suffering. Trust the God of your understanding, there is hope.
Let’s see if this works…
It can be a real roller coaster of emotions that border on chaos when a crisis strikes. I have watched myself learn and grow over the past year so I can hang in for the whole dance, most of the time now.
It really is like a dance. When your loved one is using, you step back and disengage a bit from them. You really emphasize self care and detachment so you are stronger and whole. Then, when they show interest in recovery, you move forward with connection, support, help, advice, recommendations.
When the dreaded calls come that your loved one is using, you can easily get anxious or angry. But after a certain amount of time with those feelings we need to deliberately insert a life raft for our own sanity. We need to say to ourselves, “Take a break. Stop thinking about it. You can’t do anything right now so accept that you have given enough thought to it and find some diversions.” Being deliberate is the key. Know that this is self care and that we need and deserve it. The thoughts will always jump back in but we must return to pushing them away, over and over. The dance goes on.
Dear Gail, I think this works…I deleted your comment with your last name and pasted it here.
You’re so right – addiction is a frightening and destructive dance, a rollercoaster. Our emotions suffocate us and we need to be deliberate in our thoughts and actions. Self care is essential. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. I join you in staying true to connection, support, held, advice, and community.