One of the tools that is frequently mentioned in recovery is the need for self-care. I recognize that this can take the form of anything from taking a walk or a relaxing bath, to going to a movie. This last weekend I practiced self-care through a 24 hour disengagement from my life by retreating to friends’ home outside of Tucson. Our busy lives rarely afford much time together, so I was happy to have this extended time with them. There was no need for TV, radio, or internet. We just soaked, interacted face to face, heart to heart. We shared deeply, crying and laughing as we were moved. We were free to be honest and open, each of us showing empathy and compassion as well as laughter as we exposed our vulnerable times in life (including now). It was emotional intimacy at its simplest and grandest levels.
On my drive home, I evaluated my visit. Did I manage to stay in the Healthy Lane? Was I exhibiting co-dependent behaviors? How about my boundaries? At times, I was drifting near the edge of my Lane, but mostly, I related in a healthy way. My best gauge was realizing that I wasn't leaving “drained” as I might have in the past after so much shared vulnerability and deep, often painful sharing. Instead, I left renewed and refreshed. I hadn't crossed over into “fixing” or “rescuing” or controlling, or taking on another’s pain. What wonderful awareness and experience! I have joy for not only the time away, but knowing I am growing up!
The context for my seeing these dear friends was wanting some insight regarding singleness in life after divorce. I was able to share my own insecurities about the next stages of my life – the uncertainty of being alone, managing a large house, and handling all of the financial responsibilities. My respect and appreciation for each of them has grown exponentially as I relate now to seeing what they have overcome, yet exhibit such joy, peace, stability, and compassion for others. Their honesty about their struggles allowed me to even further appreciate their current lives and how they exhibit such humble courage and strength. I received a lot of encouragement and understanding for what I am facing, as well as an unspoken acknowledgement that my choices will dictate my journey.
This Monday morning I continue to reflect on my time away. I am thankful for so very much. The gift of friendship resonates overall, but with that I can draw upon what healthy relationships look and feel like. I see my progress, my growth, and my own worth. Recovery is a process, and it is so nice to (finally?!) see some of it!
Poem for Everyone
I will present you
if you are patient and tender.
I will open drawers
that stay mostly closed
and bring out places and people and things
sounds and smells, loves and frustrations, hopes, and
bits and pieces of three decades of life
that have been grabbed off
and found lying in my hands.
They have eaten
their way into my memory,
carved their way into
altogether-you or I will never see them.
They are me.
If you regard them lightly,
deny that they are important
or worse, judge them
I will quietly, slowly
begin to wrap them up,
in small pieces of velvet,
like worn silver and gold jewelry,
tuck them away in a small wooden chest of drawers
John T. Wood