Published in Recovery Today Magazine, October 2018, Issue #47
In the fall of 2013 I had one year of recovery from alcohol and drugs and I was exhausted. My life was still, as they say, unmanageable. I had stopped using mommy’s little helpers to get going in the morning and sedating myself to sleep at night with most (if not all) of a bottle of wine. I hadn’t yet changed any of the reasons I thought I needed these things to cope. I was living my life at the same pace as when I was using only this time without the medicine that numbed the pain of it all.
I thought I was supposed to be able to work full time, manage a household, raise a kid, commute 3 hours a day, hold a union exec position, hit 3 or 4 meetings a week, do service work and keep a floundering marriage together. I was failing, and I knew I was going to crash in a spectacular fashion. I thought there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t maintain what I assumed was a “normal” amount responsibility.
In an effort to pull myself out of this tailspin, I went and saw a counsellor. For 45 minutes I told her about all the things I was failing at. When I finally stopped talking she said, “I think you need to rest.” I said I was planning on having a nap on Sunday. She leaned in and said, “No. I mean… you need to rest for a year.” Cue sound of pin dropping. How was I supposed to win at life if I didn’t do all the things?
Some of us are recovering from a life of “too much” and as it turned out, that counsellor was right. I was lucky enough to land at a She Recovers retreat in Mexico before things went completely sideways and there I rested…a lot. It gave me a chance to re-evaluate what my life was versus what I really wanted it to be. I came home from that retreat and started making some big changes. These are some of the things I learned to do.
- Protect my rest – I need 7-8 hours of sleep a night to function properly.
- Protect my time – I stopped saying yes to everything I got asked to do and committed to saying “I’ll think about it”. Now I go home and really look at whether that extra time exists.
- Protect my heart – I no longer invest time in unhealthy relationships that suck me dry. If it feels like a one-way street, it probably is.
- Protect my self-care routine -I invest in my emotional, spiritual and physical self, this requires that I prioritize it.
- Protect my energy – And I mean this in the “woo” sense of the word. I need to be mindful about what I’m ingesting emotionally. What kind of people am I hanging out with, what kind of movies am I watching, what am I feeding my mind and soul?
These days my life looks completely different. The expectations I put on myself stay in line with what I can actually manage and not some insane idea I used to have of what a successful human looked like.