Recovery, Spiritual

Self Care in the New Year

butterfly

This week, I would love to explore the oft-overlooked issue of Self-Care, and what it really means to care for yourself in the tenderest way. I welcome all comments, as I’d love to start a conversation about how God figures in  your journey. Taking care of yourself isn’t just for those in recovery – I think all of us struggle with it at times. Women especially – the mothers and grandmothers and caretakers – are often expected to put their needs last. It may not be an audible and clear message, but the societal expectations buoy it up all the same. When we don’t self-care, we have nothing to pour out. God bless you in this new year!

 

By: Jana Greene

Have you ever just gotten lazy about something? Like really taking care of yourself – Mind, body and soul?

This time of year, we are all thinking about priorities. That’s all New Year’s resolutions are, right? Putting priority on one healthier endeavor and maybe letting other, less healthy habits slip down a notch or two.

For me, going to 12 Step meetings is my re-boot.

When I say I don’t have time to go, I’m suggesting to myself that I’m not worth making the time.

When I say I’m too sick or tired to go, I am opting out of an experience that may not heal my body, but will certainly be a salve to my soul.

When I want to hide away under my duvet cover and eat a box of Thin Mints instead of going to a meeting, well …. that should be a big, red flag.

I was raised with the notion that you don’t want to think too highly of yourself, and I get that. I understand why that is a slippery slope – God is God and I am not. I’m not talking about being self-righteous or pious. Any righteousness I might have certainly doesn’t stem from my own actions, but by the willingness to surrender my will to God’s. That’s not what I’m talking about at all.

I’m talking about how easy it is find your own heart and mind and spirit on the bottom rung of the priority ladder. You may not even notice the slippage happening. You may have been too busy caring for everyone else to see it. You may have stacked up box after box of codependency to reach your top priorities. Without a basis of loving self-care, it will topple and take you with it.

I’m terrible at self-care, true self-care. I’m really good at showing myself love by giving into it’s appetites. Isn’t that what care is about? If I want a cookie, I want the box. If I want to treat myself to something on Amazon, 10 things end up in my basket. Stay up late to watch “Call the Midwife” on Netflix? ALL NIGHT LONG.

Somewhere my psyche learned to equate moderation with deprivation.

If one is good, twelve is better. Except for that’s hardly ever true.

“Self-Care” that makes you feel awful afterward is not self-care. This may seem rudimentary, but this morning as I write this post, it’s kind of an epiphany to me.

I’ve gotten lazy with self-care, cheapening it. Worse, when someone I love needs help or care, I’ve got only a dry well to draw from.

This January 3rd, I will celebrate 16 years of consecutive sobriety. For my Recovery’s Sweet Sixteen, I’m going back to the basics. Because that’s where I find God most of the time. Like most teenagers, my recovery often likes to think it knows everything. But oh how wrong that mindset is!

I still have SO much to learn!

So, as we enter a New Year, I’m going to try to take better care of myself and re-arrange the rungs on the priority ladder. If you’ve forgotten how to truly self-care, join me on the intentional journey to care for yourself. Take time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write out some self-care statements. Here are mine:

I will seek out one-on-one time with my Heavenly Father. That doesn’t mean carving out an Instagram-worthy devotional time, but authentic conversation with God. (Authentic conversation means listening, too. I forget that.)

I will not apologize for showing myself the same level of kindness as I would a friend, or even a stranger.

I will not call myself names, deriding myself for being ‘so stupid,’ for example. Even when just kept in the confines of own mind, putting myself down takes a toll.

I will make the time and effort to make at least one Celebrate Recovery per week. I will ask God to help me out of the rut of making excuses to avoid going. At the meetings, I will LISTEN and learn, and love on my tribe.

I will make a sincere effort to consider that moderation and deprivation are not the same thing. I need Holy Help on this one, because it is ingrained very deeply. Honestly, it stems from a place of fear, of being without. And that isn’t what faith in the Lord looks like. It’s what trusting in only this world looks like.

I will get up and walk at least once every day. Jesus, walk with me and talk with me as I strive to make the changes my physical health so badly needs implemented.

I will listen to my body, and try to heed what it’s telling me. I have limitations that I’ve been fighting against for years. Maybe it’s time for acceptance.

I will maintain boundaries to protect my sobriety.

I will become more intuitive about what I REALLY need, and feed myself that which cares for it best. The Word of God. Spending time with friends. Investing in my marriage. Bringing my anxiety straight to Jesus instead of rolling around in it first.

I will give myself permission to enjoy life. And I will rely on God to help me do that. All evidence points to doom in the worldly estimation, but all truth says that He has already got this. He’s GOT it, already.

I will make the cup of tea the right way, not the microwave way.

Take the bubble bath.

Enjoy the funny cat memes.

Sometimes self-care is so simple.

Father God, praise to you for my sobriety, and for my tribe of recovery warriors. Thank you for friends and readers, and family. In this new year, reveal yourself to us in our ordinary days and through extraordinary circumstances. We need to feel your presence. Help us to actually BELIEVE that we are worth the care, the way YOU say we are worth caring for.

Amen.

Inspirational, Recovery

The Changing Room

By:  Jana Greene

Embarking upon recovery from alcoholism years ago, I realized that everything about my thought process had to change from the inside-out.

But how?

From my experiences, I had already learned that the ways ‘tried and true’ were not always true for me.  If I were to get sober, I would be scrapping my own blueprint for my life.  When I chose sobriety, I felt like an infant who lacked even the most basic instincts for survival, since what I had counted on to survive had nearly killed me.

The standard learning model did not work for me in early recovery, because alcoholism is not a rational disease.  Despite having read every self-help book I could get my hands on (there it is again…..self) and having listened to motivational speakers, preachers, and my own bullhorn of self-condemnation, I had failed repeatedly to get sober.

Then I attended some AA meetings.  It was not until I surrendered my own strategy and listened to other addicts in 12-step meetings that I began to accept that recovery was not about learning to change at all.

It was more about changing to learn.

In that room, I changed.  I listened.   I heard from people who somehow – and this is the miraculous part – did not drink.   They did not drink, but sometimes still wanted to….and when this occurred, they looked to 12 remarkable steps for living and to each other,  and it saved their lives.  They worked on recovery even when it wasn’t fashionable to be in recovery, when they really didn’t feel like it, when nobody else understood.  And they committed to sobriety in a way I never imagined possible, because they would never, ever be able to drink “like everyone else”, no matter how many meetings they went to.  Until this point, I thought meetings were a kind of means to an end….like perhaps once you “graduate”, you can celebrate with a Zima or something.

But no.

I would never graduate from alcoholism, and that was depressing.

But I would gradually LIVE, fully and joyfully….and that was exciting!

The successfully sober people I met were from all walks of life, but they all  had one thing in common:  they just didn’t pick up a drink.  No matter what.

“If your ass falls off on Main Street,” I remember one Old-Timer saying.  “Don’t pick up.”

I really never forgot that, and I’ve felt like my ass was going to fall off too many times to count, truly.

I also felt like I would die from the shakes or from the pain of de-toxing alcohol.  I felt like I would die of isolation because nobody close to me knew – or understood – the magnitude of what I was facing.  I felt incredible shame as a mother for all the nights I put my kids to bed early so that I could start drinking early.

I felt, felt, felt, felt…..like every nerve ending in my body was on fire and every piece of my spirit was shredded.    When will all of this FEELING end?  (Thankfully never, because I learned how to feel GOOD things, too 🙂

I kept feeling, but I didn’t pick up.  I tried to gather up all the nerves and soul-shreds and bring them to God, but I missed a few pieces in the process.  No matter; He found the ones that needed to remain a part of me and we decided to discard the ones that kept me in bondage, and bit by bit He is still restoring me.

I’m still a hot mess in some regards, but I’m God’s hot mess and I’ve decided to spend the rest of my life letting people know that He is utterly faithful and sobriety is a crazy-wonderful-life-saving thing.

Nearly a dozen years into recovery (thank you, Jesus – and one day at a time), I am still changing in order to learn. I have a long way to go yet, but the learning; it just keeps coming.   No matter what.

Because nothing changes if nothing changes.  Yeah, I learned that in a 12-step meeting, too.