My mother hasn’t spoken to me for nearly two weeks due to my attempt at setting boundaries with her and suggesting she attend Al-Anon meetings. Having spent the past 58 years with an alcoholic husband (who died nearly four months ago) as well as two alcoholic sons (one died ten months ago; the other entered rehab just over a month ago), it seemed like a good idea. I thought it might help her learn to focus on herself, now that she has no one left to take care of. Apparently she disagrees.
My therapist has given me lots of ideas and suggestions about dealing with my mother. She’s impressing upon me that it’s okay to set boundaries. In fact, rather than being selfish, it’s healthy. Here’s a simple diagram she gave me the last time we met:
My mother refuses to go to Al-Anon. There’s nothing I can do about that. So it’s time I stop focusing on her, and redirect my efforts to my self. As the book says: Codependent No More.
I want to get off the antidepressants, which I’ve been on a little over a year now. I don’t have anything against pharmaceutical assistance. In fact, they’ve helped tremendously. I was able to work through the effects of being in an abusive relationship and get out from under the black cloud (mostly) before my brother died. I was able to resist the quicksand after his death and work on my recovery through October, when my father died. I was able to be present with my father in hospice. I didn’t numb myself with food or alcohol (unlike the rest of my family). I’m grieving, but I have managed to keep the depression at bay. But if I can keep the depression at bay without the drugs, I’m all for it.
Dr. McEnroe (my psychiatrist) says he’d like me to have one good, relatively unstressful, uneventful year under my belt before I taper off the drugs. What do I need to do to accomplish this? Nobody dying would be great. But I cannot control that. What can I control? Self care.
What does self care mean to me?
- Moving my body in ways that nurture myself, rather than punishing my body for having more flesh than I’d like. Walking, throwing in jogging when it feels good. Running gave me plantar fasciitis, which took nearly a year to resolve fully. So now I am mindful when I lace up my shoes and head out the door. I’m moving toward replacing lifting weights with Pilates. Muscles are good, but more is not always better. And the way I lift feels a lot like punishment to me. No Ashtanga yoga. I’ve seen too many injuries, including my shoulder.
- Nature. Hiking in the woods. Walking down by the river. Outdoorsy vacations. I’m thinking the Great Bear Rainforest, this year.
- Regular massage.
- Plenty of sleep.
- Cuddling and playing with my cats.
- Seeing my therapist regularly.
- Eating healthfully.
- Reading your blogs.
- Avoiding emotional eating. And drinking. Being mindful with both. Using healthier ways of coping.
The last bullet point is the most difficult for me. In fact, all the previous bullet points support the last.
I’m guessing many of you have similar challenges. What helps you cope? I’d love to hear what’s on your list.