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How BALM® Views Self Care

BALM | July 14, 2021

So, what is the importance of Principle 5 of the BALM®?

Principle 5 is the path to self-care. By taking our focus off our loved ones and putting it on ourselves, both we and our loved ones benefit and we have the best chance of a healthy relationship with them now, and when they are in recovery themselves!

Here is a story I tell to illustrate these ideas.

There were two moms. One had a son struggling with a fierce substance use disorder. Throughout the many years of his active use, she beat her chest, cried to the heavens, and screamed, begged, and pleaded with her son.  The rest of her world fell into the background as she attempted to deal with the situation with her son. All seemingly to no avail…In her hopelessness, she took to her bed, where her other family members brought her food, begging her to get up and be a part of their lives.

“How can I?” she asked, “when my son is suffering so, and I cannot stop him?” Years later, her son had his epiphany (we will leave out the details of his journey for the sake of this story) and recovered. He came to his mother joyfully.

“Mama, get up. I’m recovered. I’m healed and I want you to be too.” His mother, at first relieved, held her son and cried tears of joy with him.

Soon, however, upon realizing she had just lost the last several years of her life, in her eyes “because of him”,  she began to admonish her son.

“Look at you all happy and healed. Don’t you see? You ruined my entire life.”

Filled with bitterness and years of practicing sadness, resentment, and dismay, she turned  her practiced focus to all the thoughts of “what he had done to her” and how she had lost all those years to sadness. She wanted to rejoice with and enjoy her son, but she only knew sadness and sorrow, and so, had very little to give her son or to share with him. She lived the remainder of her years out of bed attending to her life, but filled with bitterness toward this horrible son who had ruined her life…and, once in awhile, when she had clarity, toward herself for ruining her own life…

Then there was the other mom.

When she realized her son had a use disorder she fell down in tears and began her journey similarly to the first mom. She begged, cried, prayed. All seemingly to no avail.

One day, while sharing her sorrows with a friend, she heard herself wailing and thought, “How is my sorrow and suffering helping me? How is it helping my son? and How is it hurting the rest of my family, all of whom need me so greatly?”

And so the mom decided to take care of herself, treat her son and all of her family members with love and kindness, and live with joy and gratitude regardless of where the path might take her son, herself, or her family.

Years later, when her son got recovery, he came home to share it with her. “Mom, I am healed. I have recovery now!”

This mom, overcome with joy, had practiced moment-by-moment living, and was able to enjoy the new reality her son was sharing with her. She welcomed him to share his new way of life with a family that, under her lead, had already embraced their own recovery and saw that his illness and his recovery were part of HIS journey, not an offense to theirs. While there was an adjustment period, they enjoyed the new moments they were all given, knowing that, though it might not stay forever, it was here now and was worth savoring in each moment.

Which mom, sibling, spouse are you? Which do you want to be?