When Life Gets Overwhelming

The last couple of months have been really rough for me. I had a cancer scare complete with emergency surgery, several bouts of illness, issues with my special-needs kids, and the very real possibility of losing my brother to his own brand of addiction. There have also just been the normal stresses of holiday time: guests from out-of-town, decorating, special events at church and the kids’ school, on and on.

A main theme that has been presenting itself throughout this time is priorities. What’s really important in my life? What’s expendable? And, in the midst of all the chaos, who am I? Am I taking on others’ unrealistic expectations of myself? Am I setting a standard that’s so ridiculously high that I’m destined to live a life of constant perceived failure?

I don’t yet have all the answers (is it realistic to expect that I ever will thoroughly “arrive” in this, anyway?), but one thing is very clear: If I don’t take care of myself, everything else becomes harder… even impossible. My health suffers, my relationships suffer, and my ability to cope with “life on life’s terms” is seriously diminished. The really scary danger is that as addicts, when life gets too overwhelming to handle, we retreat into our addictions to numb our feelings.  This is not a valid option for me anymore!

So, what have I learned?

* My recovery needs to come first, without exception. If my sobriety goes out the window, I might as well forget trying to accomplish anything else in a healthy way. Meetings, readings, fellowship with other addicts and spiritual fitness cannot be neglected if I want to continue forward.

* My health comes next. I’m working through an “inner child” book with a recovery partner. It says that when we get sick or injured, it’s our inner child crying out for attention, or telling us something is wrong. It’s important to maintain balance, self-care, and gentle self-awareness throughout the day. Otherwise, our health issues will force us to slow down.

* I’m pondering that important difference between acting as a human BEing or as a human DOing. It’s like the Mary and Martha story in the Bible. When I get caught up in trying to make a good impression or pleasing others or chasing some ridiculous inner standard, I miss out on the most important things. What seems urgent is often what, in the big picture of life, doesn’t really matter.

I’m looking forward to approaching the rest of the holiday season with more balance, more breathing, more pausing… taking one day (or even one moment!) at a time, enjoying the little things along the way. Blessings to you as you celebrate and grow throughout this season as well!

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One response to “When Life Gets Overwhelming

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