Back to School, Back to Recovery

Yesterday, I woke up at 7:00 am, packed lunches, brushed hair, took pictures, gave hugs and kisses, and biked my kids to their first day of school.  Even though my eyes filled with tears as I realized this would be the last time I would drop my daughter off at elementary school (how can she already be in 6th grade?!), there was no sadness about the ending of the summer chaos.

To be totally honest, summer kicked my butt this year.  From beginning to end, I felt like I was treading water in varying depths of Unmanageability.

I have never been one for chaos.  Without routine and structure, I start to lose my moorings, and the cadence of this summer’s daily life had neither routine nor structure to it with 5 kids to feed, clean, and entertain at all hours of the day.  Even though I had chore lists, bedtimes, boundaries and good intentions…I was in over my head from Day One.

Looking back, I can recognize at least a few Recovery Issues that contributed to my inner chaos.

  1. CONTROL

Looking back I can see that all along I was struggling to grasp control of things beyond my ability.  I lost sight of the fundamental truth that the only thing that is really in my control is my own heart, my own will, my own serenity.  My underlying belief system that “Screen Time is Bad!” left me feeling the weight of responsibility to keep 5 kids entertained or productively engaged at all times so they wouldn’t revert back to the only thing they wanted to do…play X-Box.

Resolve: I will begin today to re-focus my efforts on my OWN heart and take responsibility for OWN serenity.  Next summer, I will more carefully weigh the balance between my role as “Screen-time Nazi” and the price of my personal peace.  I will include my sponsor in my daily efforts to find the right balance between boundaries and control, and explore my belief systems around screen time, seeking to figure out what it is that I am so afraid of around this issue.

2. SELF-CARE

So, at the end of my summer I went on a 10 day trip to the British Isles with my husband, my siblings and their spouses, and my parents.  This was TERRIFIC self-care….and when I came back and found what a good Mom I could be when I felt replenished, present, patient, joyful, and at peace, I realized what I had missed out on the rest of the summer.  Without daily self-care, I gradually unravel into an impatient, about-to-lose-it, irritable, and discontented version of the person I want to be.  Most days this summer, I couldn’t even recount 10 minutes to myself at my nightly check-in.

RESOLVE: Next year, I will be more mindful to weave self-care into my daily life.  I will do this by affirming that it is not my job to keep everyone entertained every second of the day.  Self-care is not meant to be feast or famine–I cannot run myself ragged on a daily basis thinking I am banking up for date night or a cruise at the end of summer.  I will remind myself how much happier, more patient, and loving I naturally am when I am replenished, and will choose daily self-care as a gift to my family as well as myself.

3. DAILIES

So for my recovery, dailies include things like reading recovery material, writing, meditation, yoga, doing formal step work, nightly check-ins and exercise.  This summer, everything except check-ins and exercise went right out the window.

Without dailies, life begins to feel like I am running hypnotized on a treadmill.  Occasionally, maybe at my 12 Step meeting or when I have just experienced some sort of trigger, I wake up for a second and realize that I am running at top speed, but I have no idea where I am going.  I feel my breath, and know where I am, and feel who I am, and want something more.  But without my dailies to keep me grounded, I soon fall back asleep and find myself running nowhere again.

After awhile, it starts to feel pretty normal to be running hypnotized.  I don’t even notice that I am completely numb, that I am completely lost in my head, in the hum of the daily routines, the racing treadmill, and I don’t even know that I am going nowhere.  That I am not even awake.

RESOLVE:  I can’t say what I can do to fix this next year.  But I know what I can do today. Today I will write this blog post.  Today I will sit in my recliner and rest for a minute.  Today I will choose to be present. Today I will work my recovery.  Today I will choose to live awake.

We’d love to hear about your summer and your Resolves to get Back to School,  and Back to Recovery.

It’s time to wake up, get off the treadmill, and start going somewhere.  Work it.  It Works!

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