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What is "Taking care of myself"

Old 06-13-2017, 09:02 AM
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What is "Taking care of myself"

I have noticed a reoccurring theme of the suggestion to take care of ourselves... is this in the most obvious sense? Eating right, exercise, drinking water and getting enough sleep? Therapy?

Aside from the "oxygen mask" metaphor ie. "I can't help you unless I'm healthy", what does this mean? I pray and constantly adjust my thoughts away from my son's disease. But it seems that no amount of meal prep, relaxing walks, actual sleep and hydrating can keep that concern from creeping in?

Even when he's "being good"; respectfully calling ahead, visiting when there's people home, grateful and humble (I don't think all addicts are jerks 100% of the time and not all of their good behavior is manipulation)... I am still in my disease and must take care of myself...

What is that for you all???
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Old 06-13-2017, 09:04 AM
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For me, more than anything else, taking care of myself means one on one, face to face individual therapy. A safe place to work through my anxieties and vulnerables with a trusted counselor who is there just for me. It's made a huge difference in my life, particularly in the area of letting go of the things I can't control.
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Old 06-13-2017, 09:29 AM
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For me, it's all that you've listed- eating well, exercising, but most of all it's putting my recovery first. I can't control anyone else's. But by attending my step study and recovery groups I make sure I'm holding myself accountable. I also see a counselor, but not nearly enough. My dad foots the bill and will only pay for me to attend monthly. Weekly would be better, but beggars can't be choosers.

I hope you find some peace.
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Old 06-13-2017, 09:31 AM
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Dear Art, for a codependent, when we hear take care of ourselves, it goes against the grain of our nature to take care of others. For me, taking care of myself is to agree with the image staring back at me each day to make the most of the day ahead. I find internal conversations with God and meditation are helping me a lot. I also am finding as I shift my attention to my spiritual needs, the physical parts are improving. I am full of energy and positive feelings, AND my son is currently not in recovery. Its taken me a LONG time to let go of the fears and worry, but the absence of fear and worry is a welcome change that's for sure.
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Old 06-13-2017, 09:48 AM
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Along with everything mentioned above I had to learn that *I* am not an expert on anyone else’s life but my own. If they are an adult, they are allowed to live their life exactly as they choose. I had to learn that it was my own ego run rampant that got in the way of trying to *fix* them to be who I wanted them to be…instead of accepting them (or not) “as is”.
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Old 06-13-2017, 10:17 AM
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I'm pretty good about not actually trying to make a difference with my son's life directly and I have zero exceptions aside from my own boundaries ... I THINK endlessly about way's to help him and then squash the thoughts, re-framing them to "How can I help myself instead?" Which is why I asked for help. He's free to live his life. I just struggle with all decisions re: him because I'm sick too.

Nothing is black and white...

Example: he has left this possessions on the side of the house and they are slowing being moved to his desert trailer, the stuff remaining is attracting rats. I've tossed some stuff but want to get bins and store it safely. I have zero perspective about this being "codependent" or me trying to control the rats? LOL! I don't mind the stuff being there, but rats are YUCKY.
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Old 06-13-2017, 03:19 PM
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I don't think the concern ever really goes away. You wouldn't be human if it did.

But I think for those of us here who've been around this particular block and lived to tell the tale, there was a moment when we realized we can't let that concern hijack our well being. There is nothing we can do to change the behavior of an addict. There are no magic words that will miraculously cause an addict to reconsider their choices. Addicts have the right to make their own decisions and, by extension, their own mistakes. Once we acknowledge this, we begin the process of acceptance. Acceptance will, in time, lead to sanity.

Speaking personally, I found it liberating to admit I had no control over what another person did or didn't do, and I was able to keep my focus where it belonged: me.
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Old 06-14-2017, 03:17 PM
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I agree with others here, and would add that from what I
have learned (books, online, therapy, 12-step, SR) the tool
that I want to utilize next is helping others. Not in the
dysfunctional codependency way, but by giving my time
and talent to an organization or cause that I want to support.

This would mean meeting new people, seeing new perspectives,
getting outside of my head, feeling grateful to be able to
contribute to a positive cause. I'm deciding what group I
could be most helpful and committed to. I am still learning
about healthy behavior, relationships (especially with myself),
and communication.

Sounds like you have made lots of great progress!
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by ArtMachine View Post
I have noticed a reoccurring theme of the suggestion to take care of ourselves... is this in the most obvious sense? Eating right, exercise, drinking water and getting enough sleep? Therapy?

Aside from the "oxygen mask" metaphor ie. "I can't help you unless I'm healthy", what does this mean? I pray and constantly adjust my thoughts away from my son's disease. But it seems that no amount of meal prep, relaxing walks, actual sleep and hydrating can keep that concern from creeping in?

Even when he's "being good"; respectfully calling ahead, visiting when there's people home, grateful and humble (I don't think all addicts are jerks 100% of the time and not all of their good behavior is manipulation)... I am still in my disease and must take care of myself...

What is that for you all???
I try to do all the basic things you mentioned like eating healthy, getting enough rest, and exercise. I think the two biggest issues for me regarding self care are dealing with my own anxiety, and remaining true to who I am.

I dont think I have a disease of any kind. Instead I feel its just a matter of learning to cope with a challenging situation.

I have accepted that a certain amount of concern, anxiety is normal because my husband is dealing with a serious health issue. There will be times when my anxiety spikes and accepting this actually brings some comfort because Im not battling against it.

When things first started up, I went to see a psychologist and got some tips for dealing with anxiety. There are CBT approaches where you break the anxiety down, sometimes allowing myself to play out the worst case scenario of whatever might be going on actually helps, a time for prayer or thoughtful meditation often helps. My husband is actually using most of the same tools as I am… one day I was feeling anxious over a medical appointment (for myself) and we did Guided Imagery together. He walked us through a whole peaceful scene with the breathing and sensory exercises. Having hobbies and maintaining friendships is also important. For a while I isolated because I was embarrassed and ashamed to tell my family and close friends what I was going through. Since I opened up to this small circle of people - my life feels so much lighter. I feel their love and have their support.

Staying true to myself, my values, beliefs are also critical. Initially when my emotions were high – I was not proud of the way I handled some interactions with my husband. Like you, I felt there were many genuine interactions with my husband even when he was actively using. Making the most of those times was only possible if my emotions were in check. Learning how to think before reacting, not jumping to unfounded conclusions, and always treating him as normal and respectfully as possible has been something that has helped him, and me.

There were times I had to set boundaries due to his behavior, but it was never to punish him. It was only done for my own safety or emotional needs. I don’t believe in withdrawing support, although I do understand that people cannot be sheltered from negative consequences as it helps to minimize the incentive for change. But consequences are not the only thing that prompts change in my opinion, so I have never really got caught up in analyzing what I do, or don’t. I try to follow my guide of staying true to myself.

Since you mentioned the items left outside that are being noticed by the mice - I guess I would ask myself – how would I handle this if substances were not involved? Would I put the items in secure boxes, call and say it must be removed now, toss it. I would follow that guide… I know parents often use things like this as teaching lessons, even when substances are not an issue. That is also another consideration that would have to be decided based on your own parenting techniques.

Thank you for posting this question. I love questions that make me think and review my own feelings and methods.
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Old 06-15-2017, 08:09 AM
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For me it is self respect..Routine- shower, dishes, washing clothes, clean teeth, clean unit, respect others, shoppung- preparing good meals.....the small things reflect 'spiritual' growth...if I do not meet every daily needed things- something is off kilter and needs to be looked into- at meetings or counselling.
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Old 06-15-2017, 08:37 AM
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For myself, it was working on my own codependency. Finding a support system. Maintaining a life outside all the chaos of addiction. Having a therapist for me. Learning I could not change anyone else's actions, so I had to learn to work on my own reactions. Finding that I can be happy outside that chaos. Finding hobbies and trying to refocus that anxiety into something productive that I enjoy.

Hope this helps.
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Old 06-16-2017, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by ArtMachine View Post
Example: he has left this possessions on the side of the house and they are slowing being moved to his desert trailer, the stuff remaining is attracting rats. I've tossed some stuff but want to get bins and store it safely. I have zero perspective about this being "codependent" or me trying to control the rats? LOL! I don't mind the stuff being there, but rats are YUCKY.
I guess I see this situation like this:

A) Wanting to protect yourself and your home from disease ridden vermin is NOT codependent behavior. That is looking after YOU.

B) Protecting the belongings of someone who is neglecting them because you don't want their things getting ruined WOULD be enabling.

If I had someone storing things in my yard that was attracting rats they would have exactly one day to figure out how they were going to remove that stuff or I would be having it removed to the dump!!! YUCK!!!
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Old 06-17-2017, 07:10 AM
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Thanks for sharing, ArtMachine.

Your comment, "I pray and constantly adjust my thoughts away from my son's disease." I've done so also (with regard to my adult son). I regularly pray and practice methods I've learned to redirect my thoughts when I see I'm "thinking down the wrong path." Obviously, for me, it's ongoing. I've accepted that. The comforting part is I've gained peace, confidence, acceptance, you get what I mean.

It's certainly not always easy but definitely is possible to move into a healthier lifestyle and to heal.
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Old 06-30-2017, 07:01 AM
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Bless you for your response, so much of what you said made me feel better and challenged me to change what I can and also, allow myself to love and care for my son, free of guilt or judgement I perceive from others.
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Old 07-02-2017, 09:14 PM
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Exactly

Originally Posted by SmallButMighty View Post
I guess I see this situation like this:

A) Wanting to protect yourself and your home from disease ridden vermin is NOT codependent behavior. That is looking after YOU.

B) Protecting the belongings of someone who is neglecting them because you don't want their things getting ruined WOULD be enabling.

If I had someone storing things in my yard that was attracting rats they would have exactly one day to figure out how they were going to remove that stuff or I would be having it removed to the dump!!! YUCK!!!
Exactly! The sooner we let them have their consequences the faster they figure it out. We help them for ourselves, not them. We can't stand the pain of their losses...that's how it was for me. It is way easier to do something, anything then to let go and not have control. Plus our choices become at everyone else's expense. We want to rescue our sick loved ones and pretend it isn't affecting everyone else around us.
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Old 07-03-2017, 05:30 AM
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For me, I had to heal mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally from years of damage that I had done or allowed to be done to myself.

I learned to set boundaries and treat myself with the same respect as I would give to anyone else. I had to learn to let go of everything and everyone that was not me and respect their right to make their own decisions, however poor they may be. I had to honour my values, my, principles, and my dreams and identify just what they were.

I could not do this alone. With help from God and prayer, meetings and a program that set me on a better course in life and coming here to SR to surround myself with support, I found my way again...not "back" to where I was before I walked through hell, to forward to where I wanted to go, embracing the lessons I had learned along the way to make me wiser on the journey.

Taking care of myself is an ongoing daily action. Today I find joy and beauty in every single day...no matter what the day brings.

That, my friend, is taking care of myself, as I see it.
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Old 08-31-2017, 02:07 PM
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I'm so glad I went back to read this... seems that since I've let it be known that I'm no longer offering solutions, help, $$ or advice, my son is giving me "space", haha! I no longer have the excuse of the stress he provokes to avoid healthy food, exercise or socializing. I have to focus on what's really best for me, which meetings help me with. I think about my son often but in terms of hope and love, not so much fear and anguish.
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