Why You Need To Put Yourself First
Addiction has a way of slowly robbing us of ourselves. What I mean by that is,
over time, as a person who is close to an addict, we spend more and more time
taking care of and managing our addicted loved one. We lose the ability to focus on
or take care of anything else including ourselves. It happens without us even
realizing it. We stop doing the little things we enjoy. We don’t take time out to read a book or get our nails done. We start cutting corners and giving up things because we are concerned about being available for addicted loved one.
Soon we are down to doing the basics and neglecting our own needs. We abandon
our social life. We neglect the rest of our family. We stop eating and sleeping
properly. We don’t exercise anymore and we neglect our health. Eventually we
are so tired and run down that everything is a struggle. We forget or neglect
important responsibilities because we are overwhelmed,
preoccupied and stressed.
If you are questioning whether you are out of balance and need to spend some time
relearning how to take care of your self, take a couple of minutes and see where you are on the emotional spectrum.
I bet you already suspected you were run down and overwhelmed. It’s no mistake
that you are here. It’s easy to do, especially when you are a caregiver and feel
responsible for your addicted loved one. No one wants to “abandon” someone in
pain and suffering. Nor do we want to see them struggle.
The problem is that as they get further down the hole with their addiction, we end
up down there too. They call addiction cunning, baffling and powerful. We can see
very clearly how that describes addiction for the addict, but we lose sight of how it is the same for us. When we follow them down the rabbit hole of addiction it traps us
too and we become just as affected. It just looks different.
I teach this at the very beginning of my course for families dealing with addiction for one simple reason if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you are useless to everyone
else. It’s like the oxygen mask theory. When you are on a flight, the flight
attendants will tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before anyone else.
This goes against all your instincts because you want to save your loved one first.
We’ve been taught to put others before ourselves. In reality, we are more useful
to our loved ones if we put the oxygen mask on first. We can’t help them if we can’t breath ourselves. The same is true when we are close to someone struggling with
substance use. It is incredibly stressful, trying and wearing. When we are run down, over extended, overwhelmed and exhausted, we lose our balance. We run out of
patience and are not our best selves. We want to be our best selves navigating
our way through our loved one’s substance use so we can help them find more
positive coping strategies and they can be successful.
So were do we start?
I remember when I started noticing that I was sad, tired, overwhelmed and,
unhappy. The problem was I didn’t know what to do, let alone how to start doing
the things that were going to help me rejuvenate and get myself back in balance.
Here is where I started: I identified the areas that needed my attention starting with physical health, emotional wellbeing, intellectual wellbeing, spiritual wellbeing and social wellbeing.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Once you have answered those questions you’re on the first step to getting back to being yourself and better at helping our addicted love one.
But what to do next?
I will cover the next steps in my upcoming blog. If any of this resonates with you
and you’d like further support, then visit me at www.familiesdorecover.com I have many resources and lots of information that you may find helpful.
is a Vancouver-based Addictions Specialist and Family Therapist with training and experience in numerous areas related to healing and recovery from the devastation of addiction & alcoholism.