Around Valentine’s Day, we often think about the people in our lives that we love and how we can express that love to them. We wanted to take a moment in this blog post to reflect on loving and taking care of ourselves and how that actually helps us love others.
For people in early recovery, self-care often involves relearning how to meet basic physical needs that have gone neglected for a long time. This can often include returning to a consistent and healthy schedule of meals as well as regular exercise and sleep. It usually also involves restoring basic emotional and spiritual needs that have gone unmet, like the needs for security, connection, and recreation.
For family members, their lives have often become consumed by the person with the addiction. After years of constantly watching over and cleaning up after their loved one, their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being has likely been affected in significant ways. Often family members get to a point where they also are not sleeping, eating well, or otherwise neglecting their basic emotional and spiritual needs. And many times, reincorporating these practices is the first step to proper self-care.
It all sounds easy enough. However, when deciding to do something for ourselves, we might fear that the people close to us will feel neglected or cheated out of our attention. But we might be surprised. Often people who care about our well-being derive deep satisfaction from seeing us take care of ourselves.
A MARR family counselor once recalled a family session in which a client in early recovery told his wife that it made him feel happy whenever he saw her taking time out of her day to go running. This revelation was a surprise to her. She thought he might feel like she was ignoring him during this time. But of course, she wasn’t ignoring him, and he knew that. Properly taking care of ourselves gives us the strength and emotional capacity to show up to love others in our lives.
Sometimes self-care is more challenging in the short term. For people suffering from addiction, checking into treatment might not be the thing they want to do at the moment. But it is undoubtedly a better way to take care of themselves than taking that next drink or drug.
In the case of family members of people with addictions, self-care often involves setting healthy boundaries. Doing this can often feel cold or uncaring, but healthy boundaries force the person with an addiction to confront the reality of their illness. Even though it is hard, it is actually the loving thing to do.
When addiction is involved, we often need help to practice self-care, but we don’t even know where to start. Addiction has a way of confusing everyone. Even when we think we are caring for ourselves or others, we can sometimes unknowingly cause them and ourselves harm.
If you need some help sorting through how you can take care of yourself and your loved ones, our Clinical Assessment Team is available for a confidential and free conversation about the next steps you can take. Call us at (678) 405-5623 or reach out via the chat box in the lower right-hand corner of our website.
Self-care is foundational to being a happy, whole, and connected human being and foundational to loving others in the best way we can. Healthy self-care, which contributes to healthier family dynamics, is one of the most important goals we have for all of our clients and their family members.