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[ Personal Narratives ]

On Being Selfish To Be Selfless

Today, although I feel scared, awkward and unsure of myself. I am going to try something new and put me first. Today my future is the most important thing I have, it is all I got, it is all I want right now. Selfish? Some may think so. But I have been putting the needs of others ahead of my own for a long time because I always thought that’s what made me feel good. I have been putting the needs and desires of my addiction first, again thinking that this is what would make me feel good. But in the end, it was all just one big lie I had been telling myself, to keep myself from feeling pain. But pain is a relational term because there is no happiness without pain. The irony also exists that often one must be selfish before they can be selfless, especially those in recovery.

So what initiated this epiphany? A friend who is struggling with her own addiction. Oh, how I want to save her from having to feel any more pain. I feel helpless that she won’t get herself into detox, and I can’t help to think that I can help her get the help that I needed. But to do so puts me in a precarious position. 

A year ago, I wouldn’t have even seen the danger in helping. A year later, and sober, I still have the same innate desire to be the rescuer, to drop everything I am doing to go try and save her without regard to how it may affect me emotionally. But today I can see the repercussions it may have on my future. 

Having been clean and sober for a little bit now, my future looks brighter than it has in a long time. Or should I just say, that today I actually have a future, it’s real, it’s tangible, it’s something I can see? It’s no longer a clouded delusion I created in my head, to justify my behavior, to make me feel better about myself.

Today I’m in the process of learning how to create healthy boundaries for myself around my recovery. Lines that can’t be crossed, that are no longer negotiable. Knowing that without my recovery there is no future, and without a future, there is no hope. Without hope, my branches dry out and the petals of my flower wither. Until I find myself slumped over in a corner, alone, dehydrated, and lifeless. Like a rose who just needed someone to care enough about it to give it some water.

I’m still here for her, and I’m willing to help, but I can only do so as much as I am able to keep myself healthy. I am beginning to feel in my heart of hearts, that time is drawing short, and soon I am gonna have to step back and put my friends future in the hands of my loving God. Knowing he’s the only one who can truly help her, and that my healthy role in all of this is probably going to just be one of a distant friend. Offering emotional support, and words of encouragement, strength, and hope.

Today this self-loving behavior is new to me. It is scary, it makes my heart race, my insides upset and my body sweat. It seems selfish, unfair, and makes my stomach feel like it just got kicked by a size 12 leather boot. It almost makes me feel sick to my stomach right now as I type these words. I feel like I am abandoning her if I do pull back, and what kind of friend does that?

So my hearts saddened, my eyes are moist with what are soon to be tears if I allow myself to actually feel all the feelings I have regarding this situation. I know if I do have to step back from her, I will be doing so solely out of self-preservation, and because it is what I have to do to keep myself healthy, but I am not sure I like It!!

I may not like it, but I have learned that without a healthy me, I have nothing. That without a healthy me I have no chance of helping anyone else in my future. That without a healthy me, mom loses her son again, and son looses his dad!!

So today as awkward as it seems, I go first!! Today is about self-care and future preparation. Today is about loving me for the wonderful disaster that I am, and not caring at all whether other people like it or not.Today I am moving forward, yes feeling a little awkward and afraid, but definitively not alone!!

Thank-you to all of you who have supported me along my trip to hell and back again, and for continuing to love me until a day like today came. When I could begin to love myself!