Al-Anon Lifer

Anonymous sharings from a long-time member of Al-Anon, which is a safe place to recover from the effects of alcoholism in a friend or relative...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Balancing Act

Several people commented after my last blog about depression and how recovery itself can also cause fatigue. This is true, and it is at those times that we need to take extra special care of ourselves. I remember when I was deep in the throws of my first real 4th step inventory that I let a lot of stuff go, such as housework and even physical exercise - things I had always made a priority. I needed so badly to get well spiritually that the physical had to take a back seat. (I felt even better about my doing this when I read in Alcoholics Anonymous on page 64 that "we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.")

So this approach seemed to work for me, even though now I do need to exercise in order to keep up my spirits. But that is different than being spiritually well. Spiritually well to me is not always feeling good. Instead, it is knowing that my emotions or how I feel physically don't need to rule my attitude and therefore my life. They simply help me know that something is going on and I need to use the tools of my program to take action, if necessary. And sometimes that action is rest, which I'm pretty much doing today, deciding when I woke up "not quite right" that I would not push myself as much as I have been.

But in this cultural, we are taught to be producers. I remember my youngest daughter coming home from high school during my worst clinical depression more than ten years ago. She asked me what I had accomplished that day, as if that would be a sign that I was better. Funny thing is that the times I was the most productive in my life have not necessarily been the healthiest. I often took up unnecessary projects or pushed myself too hard on household chores just to keep busy, to keep my mind off of what was really bothering me, which was my extreme unhappiness in my marriage to an alcoholic.

So when I stopped putting the physical first to clean out the cobwebs in my soul, to release my spirit and let it shine, I may have not been as productive as I used to be, but I was much happier and so were my children. Even today it is a balancing act, between taking care of the physical and spiritual, emotional and mental. I have to watch myself to make sure I'm not just being lazy when I decide I need a day off. I have to ask my Greater Power what she wants me to do every day. And today that answer seemed to be to rest, even though I had planned on going to the gym. My knee hurting and giving out while climbing the stairs was a real indication.

It is okay, I tell myself. I can go to the gym tomorrow instead. This will give me the chance to catch up with some reading and be more prepared for a writing class I'm starting tonight. Maybe, just maybe, I'll even take a nap which I usually don't do. It's okay. Sometimes the work we talk about in "working the steps" or "working our program" is not work at all, but learning to be comfortable with changing our behavior - for me, Just for Today, that is being flexible with my schedule when my body and mind need some extra rest. Thank you, God, for giving me the time.

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At Thursday, March 20, 2008 8:45:00 AM, Blogger Syd said...

Doing whatever you need to do to take care of yourself be it spirtual, mental or physical is the key.


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