Thursday, January 12, 2012
He's the sick one -- not me...
I believe that anyone who is in an emotional arm’s distance from any alcoholic/addict needs to find recovery just as much as the one who has the focus of our attention. That’s just it right there – the one who has the focus of our attention. What about turning some of that attention on you -- the caretaker?
As we get drawn into this world of “keeping things going” we often lose sight of our own needs and happiness. We must put ourselves at a lower priority level because we have no idea what is going to happen next in our homes as a result of the alcoholic’s brain damaged stupidity. We are always on alert. We must pay attention to them – the alcoholic, kids, parents, siblings, neighbors, friends, co-workers – we must be aware of what they are doing, thinking, seeing. I’m tired just thinking about it all.
Detachment is the best way to survive life in an alcoholic home. It sounds like a dirty word, but all it really means is to take care of your own self. As long as you are constantly worrying about what the alcoholic is doing to everyone else and to himself, you might forget to so things that make you happy.
And – what DOES make you happy?? Do you even know what makes you happy? Have you forgotten what makes you smile? I preach all the time (to anyone who will listen) to find your passion. Find that one thing that you love doing and then do it.
I know what you are thinking “I love to do “X”, but I just don’t have the time or the money.” If it is truly your passion you will find a way to be involved somehow. Love to read – volunteer at the local library. Love animals – volunteer at the animal shelter. Love to cook – volunteer at your local soup kitchen. There are lots of ways to do things you love that won’t cost you anything and just might help someone else in the process.
If you have the funds available and you like doing things like, horseback riding, spa days, etc, then set aside one day, or at least a half day, where you can do what you want without interruption from anyone who makes your life difficult. If you need someone to baby-sit, find one and pay them well to show how much you appreciate that person.
I recently interviewed Mary Gordon at the
. She heads up the family program and they have a good one. This is a week long program which covers the medical aspects of alcoholism, learning how to deal with the stress of living with an alcoholic, finding yourself in the chaos, learning to accept and let go by grieving your loss and moving on, and, creating a plan. Basically, the center covers just about everything I would want to know if I were a participant. Betty Ford Center
Mary Gordon was articulate, informative, genuine, and patient, as I have a tendency to ramble and get off track. She said she would send me information and she did just that almost immediately. All of these things indicate to me that she represents an organization that is worthy of my time – and yours.
You can watch a YouTube presentation with Mary Gordon at this web address:
To visit their website – go here -- www.bettyfordcenter.org
Someone once told me I was just as sick as Riley. This person didn’t mean to be derogatory, but rather they wanted to point out that my mental and physical health had deteriorated since I began taking care of him. That person was right. Since I started this journey I have had or now have, a heart attack, stroke, flu (twice), salmonella (twice), insomnia, weight gain, diabetes, and general feelings of malaise. Yes, I agree, I am not as healthy as I wish I were.
I should have gone to a place like Betty Ford when I first decided to take him back in. But I didn’t because I had been privileged enough to be a part of a military sponsored family program back in the 80’s. It was intense and extremely educational. Fortunately, I had retained much of what I had previously learned. But, still it took me a while to get on even footing.
What has saved me from insanity is writing this blog. Writing has always been a passion that I’ve had since childhood. Writing this blog has re-kindled my need to write because I just can’t NOT write. It is my passion. It has always been there, but work and the general business of living put in a box in my brain and ended up getting buried in the maze. Thanks to taking on this task with Riley, I’ve once again found the box and after opening it, the contents are flowing out like lava from a volcano.
Of course, it took me about a year to get to taking the cover off that box. If I had gone to the
, maybe I would have opened the box long ago. I know that the health issues I have are easier to manage when I have an outlet for my frustration. There are things I can’t “un-do” like the heart attack and stroke, but I now do more to prevent them from reoccurring. When I feel the stress from Riley’s ridiculous-ness, I write it all down – I don’t always publish it – but I get it out and find some perspective. Betty Ford Center
You don’t have to be a writer – but do something that helps you relax and get back to being the person you know you really are. In the words of Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry Be Happy.
at 7:15 AM