marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Breathing Lessons

From Hope for Today, June 10:

“I find the lessons of Al-Anon appearing in the most unexpected places—for example, in pre-flight safety instructions. Along with the details of how to fasten the seat belt and where to find the nearest emergency exit, the instructions always advise how to deal with the loss of cabin pressure. The suggestion is that I apply my own oxygen mask, thus ensuring my survival, before attempting to help others…Only then, when I have taken care of these responsibilities to myself, am I strong and stable enough to help others.”

 

It seems like a no-brainer, the above advice. But for a long time I ignored my own needs, not taking care of myself, close to throwing myself under the bus, because of my obsession with my daughter Angie and saving her from her addiction.

I loved my child to distraction, and I felt that self-sacrifice was a way to demonstrate my love.

But I found after years of it that it just wasn’t working. All the “help” I gave my daughter, all the protection I provided, shielding her from the logical consequences of her drug-induced behavior, just kept her in her disease. What motivation did she have to change her behavior when I kept getting in the way?

And as if that weren’t bad enough, my enabling behavior just made me sicker than I already was. Deep down, I knew I wasn’t doing the right thing  when I was over-protective. I felt guilty, torn, sleepless, and eventually the signs of PTSD were clear. I broke down.

That’s when I put my oxygen mask on. I started to get well, and not just for Angie but for the other people in my life. I realized that until I healed myself I was no good to anyone else.

I’m grateful for the gifts of recovery that keep on giving.

 

 

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