Self care can be especially difficult around the holidays for me and, as evidenced by the sharings of those at a recent Al Anon meeting, for many Al Anons. For me, holidays dredge up memories, both good and bad; elicit expectations about just about every aspect of the holidays; and trigger my perfectionism, which for the most part I have quelled or released in my daily life with the help of my higher power. I also find myself over scheduling or adding too many to do's to my to do list. I have found that coming into this holiday season, I am a little off.
Maybe it's a slight depression about the world we live in. Or maybe it's feeling disconnected to my family/siblings after a year of getting in a couple of happy visits to see a lot family I hadn't seen in years. Or it could stem from a recent disappointment with a sister. Whatever the reason, I've learned in Al Anon to acknowledge my feelings, even when I'm not sure where they are coming from.
In the past, before Al Anon, I was a “human doer” not human being. I was so focused on everyone and everything outside myself, I didn't have time to feel or check in with myself. I would go, go, go until I crashed by either having an angry outburst or getting very sick. That way of life, while I may chuckle to myself and say, what's wrong with that?!,“ I know it is not living a healthy, full life.
So, taking time to read my daily Al Anon readings, taking time to go to meetings and even extra meetings, and staying in touch with Al Anon friends is really helping me keep my Al Anon coat of armor strong. Well, stronger, anyway.
One of the tools I was reminded of at a recent meeting was doing what is known as "bookending.” That is, making a call to your sponsor or an Al Anon friend before an interaction or event, and then calling that person after. It is a great tool for getting clarity, developing strategies to deal with the interaction, and strengthening my Al Anon armor. And, for me it helps me to not beat myself up if things didn't go well or to acknowledge my growth if it did go well.
Another good tool helping me take care of myself this season is allowing myself to feel nurtured by even the littlest pause in a busy day or small thing I do for myself. Getting myself to my exercise classes and having a healthy lunch are filling me with positive me time. And while I'm showing myself compassion, I am also trying to remember to show others compassion, because it's holiday time for them as well.