Self Care vs. Self-ish…

Right now I’m struggling with how much of myself I’m supposed to be giving to others and how much self-care I should be exercising.  And I’m worried about whether or not I’m being selfish by carving out that time for myself. 

I am a caretaker, a nuturer and a people pleaser.  I think it’s because I had to be the adult in my family at a very young age and had to be the peacemaker in the chaos. But nuturing and loving on other people actually fills my soul and makes me feel good.  Sometimes I can go overboard with the people pleasing and nuturing and sometimes others can drain the life right out of me if I let them (which I have been known to do) but overall it’s a very positive experience for me and one that I enjoy very much.

(And to my family – this post does not apply to you.  You can’t get rid of me that easily.  I will always be so far up your behinds I can see out of your eyeballs.  I love you.  Mwah!)

But now I’ve begun to enjoy my own company.  I’ve begun to enjoy the feeling of being self-nuturing and of allowing myself to be nurtured by God.  It’s so wonderful to actually like yourself (who knew?)!  I’m not completely there yet but at least I can stand to be in a room with only me for company and not go seeking other distractions (like a bottle of wine or two).

In my former life (before recovery), I couldn’t stand to be alone.  When I traveled I was always the one who wanted to have one more drink, or desert, or go to the movies, or sit in the lobby and talk, primarily because I didn’t want to be alone in my room until it was time to go to sleep.  Even at home, I’m the one who turned the TV on as soon as I walked into a room – just for the company and background noise.  I required constant company, distraction and conversation, all the time, and if it wasn’t around I’d go out and find it.

Now I’m finding that I crave a little alone time now and then.  That I need it to recharge my batteries.  Who the hell am I?  Where did THAT come from?  Last night after my walk I had the house to myself.  I didn’t turn the TV on and didn’t even notice it wasn’t on until much later in the evening.  I was just reading blogs and thinking and just…being.  WTF? 

So when is this selfish and when is it self-care?  It all feels selfish to me but I know, intellectually, that it really isn’t.  Will I just know?  Should I just follow my heart and my gut?

Or is it time for a little selfishness?  This is all new territory for me…and I’m really excited about being on this journey.

6 thoughts on “Self Care vs. Self-ish…

  1. A great topic..and I think everyone in a program struggles with this because of the messages & slogans.

    I can only speak about my experience in Alanon. There was so much talk about “my recovery” and “taking care of myself” it began to feel very selfish to me.

    I had character defects which I went through with the steps several times with a sponsor, but being in “recovery” myself? From what? Worrying because my son was killing himself? I don't think that is “sickness”, I think it's normal to freak out if your kid is shooting heroin on the streets!

    This sounds negative about Alanon, but that is not my intent. The support, and the ability to just talk at that time was huge. It helped me a great deal. But I began to feel I should put myself before my family, and that is not going to happen.

  2. I'm not in a program yet(?) but I'm hearing and feeling both pros and cons. I read on a blog, pretty sure it was “being sober” MC, that she regretted how much she had been “talked into” putting herself first, before her family (not those words exactly – but that was the jist of it)
    But I don't think you need worry about that . . . I think you're just finding yourself, and liking what you find (for the first time in ?? yrs) And wanting to find some more . . . Now what makes me think that?
    It is exicitng though, you're right. A whole new person to be discovered. Ehjoy your “you” time. It sounds to me as though you got some catching up to do. Rock on 😉

  3. Love your post! I face that inner debate on a daily basis. Is my morning run good because being athletic makes me my best self, therefore a better mother, wife, and professional? Or is it astonishingly selfish, because I'm not having breakfast for my son, helping my husband get him ready for school, or arriving on time for work?! And that's just the first unanswerable question of the day.

    For the moment, I'm going with the self-care justification. I sincerely believe that the time I take to develop my best self is very little compared to how much time I would be spending drinking, being hungover, and dealing with the super-crazy life that invariably results from active alcoholism. So my two cents is ENJOY these new delicious moments of solitude and getting to know your sober self. It's through doing this that we have so, so much more to offer our loved ones…

  4. Yea, an excellent topic!

    What I read in this post is pure self-care and love for oneself. It is to respect yourself to require some alone-time to recharge batteries.

    I understand your question and have asked it myself and I have thought that I cannot read other people's minds. I can hear my own thoughts and as I now get to know and respect myself I do what makes me feel good. Now, if anyone would find me to be selfish and it is a problem for them, then THEY need to take responsibility for their own wishes and tell me so. I will naturally do my best to listen and I care.

    I'm not sure if I make any sense… but I strongly believe you have a good and healthy sense of what is right or wrong. I understand that we are alcoholics with our twisted minds or perceptions. But reading your blog makes me believe you have a good common sense and cannot imagine you're selfish, at all!

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