Right from early childhood I was taught to put others first. Consider what they wanted, put myself out to make others happy. I was conditioned to behave in a way which took little account of my own feelings. Indeed I almost grew up believing that my FEELINGS were of no account. When asked by various counsellors over my adult life how I ‘felt’ about certain situations , I have often been completely unable to identify my emotions about almost any given experience. It has recently – in the last two years – occurred to me how abnormal, and more importantly unhealthy, this is.
Always putting others first has been, unsurprisingly, a recipe for disaster. I have literally not been able to respond with appropriate anger and outrage when appalling things have been done by others. I have struggled to feel anger, let alone express it, when I have been physically threatened by my ex husband.
Getting sober – and staying sober means that I have to put my needs higher up the list. I have three children – and their needs (and often wants) have been my first priority, add to my life a FT professional job running a medium sized healthcare business with two others, a partner I adore, my mum, friends and it’s easy to see how carving out time to attend to my own needs has been a low priority.
I know, to be long term successful, and to grow and develop into the woman I believe I can be, I need to reverse the habits of a lifetime and start prioritising my needs. We all know that cravings and temptations are harder to resist when we are hungry, angry, lonely or tired – and we all know individual triggers that make us want to reach for the nearest bottle of alcohol – any alcohol. I need to manage my work load, personal time, activities and social life do that I minimise these triggers , and support myself in achieving what I desperately want to.
It’s hard though, to learn to put oneself first … And will be called selfish by some. … I just need to reframe that “selfish” as self protective / self care / self love