Put the oxygen on yourself first. Safety instructions from the flight attendant, in case of in flight emergency. This instruction applies metaphorically to me in sobriety. I must be selfish in guarding my sobriety, in a sense: put the oxygen on myself first!
If I am not breathing, I am unable to help anyone else. Nothing in my life will work properly if I am not sober. In early sobriety, I felt I had absolutely nothing to give another soul. It was a tremendous amount of work to keep my mind off of the obsession to drink and take care of my girls.
I was a meeting whore in the beginning, because all I could concentrate on was getting to the next meeting. Which in itself is ironic, because I was so resistant to the meetings’ message. But as time has progressed, I have become more secure. I don’t feel unsettled like I did in the beginning.
After about 6 months, I started doing service work, going into the detox where I was. It served two-fold. I am able to share my experience, strength, and hope with the folks there, and I am reminded of where I came from.
In working the program, I do introspective work, trying to decipher the feelings that led me to drink in the first place. I don’t like self examination. I am not very good at it, and I have to be always careful of not getting sucked up into an external project that sidetracks me from my primary goal—recovery. As an alcoholic who buried my feelings, it is easier to focus on other people’s shit. If I work on yours, I don’t have to work on mine! When I focus on others, my own problems can stay buried and not rear their ugly heads.
Doing that, however, is not putting the oxygen on myself. I will stay stuck and sick. Which does neither me or my daughters any good. It is imperative to me that I keep moving forward in sobriety, repairing my relationships, getting back to work, and feeling the feelings I have long buried.
I had a lot to feel. Facing the fact that I failed at my marriage, that my daughters now had divorced parents. Accepting the fact that I was extremely drunk when my father was bed bound, with my mother taking care of him most of the time. Dad died two years ago. His final months were spent with me being impatient with him, and his inability to help or cooperate in his care. I have to face that my oldest daughter no longer likes nor respects me, as she does her mother.
I have to face the fear. This is all very hard, yet very good, however. Be blessed, sober peeps.
Till next time, be safe and follow the instructions.
Put your oxygen mask on first—then breathe. (Marie Storm)