On Taking Care of Oneself

I just had a wonderful voicemail from one of my friends after my first eye surgery. In it, she talked about her needing to room alone when traveling and needing time to be alone. She put it in terms of introvert/extrovert. I was reminded of the time I took the psychological test for introversion-extroversion. It wasn’t that I was “balanced between” introversion and extroversion (trying to force me into a dualism!!!), I was high on introversion and high on extroversion!! That fit for me!

Living in Process is all about learning to take care of ourselves – – and, living in context and being responsive to others and their needs at the same time. I have seen so many people get into, what I call, a “New Age taking care of themselves,” which is just the old tried and true self-centeredness.

I urge you not to get into a subtle New Age/self-centered taking care of yourself. It is so easy to slip into “if I don’t take care of myself, who will?” especially if one is living with addicts. Unfortunately, if one is not working a good program, self-centeredness can breed self-centeredness as a reactive survival force – – “by damn, I just do what I want for a change.” If this is our reaction, we will lose – – – on many fronts.

Taking care of ourselves is hard when being around self-centered addicts. At times, the decision seems to be between the dualism of doing what we have to do to survive or being ourselves. For, if we are ourselves – normally loving/giving people – the addict will take advantage of that and “use” us for their own means. The other option is to become harder, more protective and lose who we genuinely are. Either way, we lose who we really are and it will kill us.

What is the third option?

This is the option of self-discovery and progressively becoming who we truly are. Don’t be surprised if this option is assaulted from all sides. Yet, what a powerful option it is.

I was an only child. I needed and had gobs of time alone. I wandered in the woods and streams of the Ozarks with my dogs. I had lots of time alone for dreaming, thinking about all kinds of things, pondering the meaning of almost everything, communing with nature, communing with the universe, communing with my inner thoughts, feelings, awarenesses, intuitions, knowings were all part of my daily fare. Taking things apart and putting things together on all levels of reality was the way I spent my days.

To do all this, I had to have time alone AND I had to be with people. BOTH taught me much and opened up new doors. My animals also taught me a great deal and I always had animals around me. There was a great big sycamore tree in our back yard when I was younger and when I felt angry, confused or overwhelmed, I climbed to the top, wrapped myself around the trunk and cried tears into the trunk, howled my anger and pain or just sat, swaying in the wind.

Perhaps this tree was one of the places and ways that I learned about deep process.

Somehow, I have always known that our job here is to become who we are and grow into who we can be.

Each little piece we “get” about who we are and what we need, like my friend did, is a treasure for our puzzle of ourselves.

How sad I feel for those who are devoted to not letting themselves or others know who they are! When we hide from ourselves and others who we truly are, we rob ourselves AND THE WORLD of our contribution.

As I said in my first book, Women’s Reality, then there is a hole in the universe when who we are is what is needed to make it whole.

I want to add one small warning. When we discover these gems about ourselves, please do not fall into the mistake of “interpreting.” I encourage you to let them sit there and expand on their own.

They, too, need to have some alone time in which to grow.

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