Walking the Talk
Recently, I came face to face with myself. and the picture I saw was shocking. I work a strong family recovery program in that I work to speak lovingly to my loved ones, work on developing my meditation practice, and study recovery and yet, over the past five years, I have struggled with my own primary addiction: food.
I first came into recovery as an overeater and had lots of success for lots of years.
Life happened and i’ve had ups and downs, relapses and recovery anew.
There have been times that I have used difficult times in my life, for instance my parents’ illnesses and their passing away, as excuses for not attending to my own recovery. But it’s not only the hard times. the beautiful flowering of my business has demanded much of me and I’ve also used that as an excuse to not take care of myself.
I have had to face the fact that I don’t always take the best care of myself and that, I have learned, is a crucial part of recovery.
They say in the rooms that denial is not just a river in Egypt and it doesn’t just refer to our loved one’s addictions. It can also refer to our own behaviors, habits and addictions.
In the BALM® programs we say that ‘Denial is the lynchpin of the addictive system.’ So, here I am, coming out of denial again around my own addiction.
So what am I getting at?
This blog is a self reflection and an invitation to readers to consider going deeper, too.
Denial often unpeels in layers. First we face our loved one’s issues. That can take great courage in and of itself. As family members of addicts, we spent years thinking that begging, nagging, screaming, and enabling were the answer.
And from that belief system, our words may have sounded like this:
- “Honey,don’t you think you ought to start going to more meetings? You’re driving me nuts.”
- “Can’t you please stop using? It’s destroying you, me, and our family.”
- “I can’t take it anymore! Your using is going to kill you. You have got to get help and I mean NOW!”
Of course, as we grow in our BALM® work, our comments sound more like this and are delivered calmly without any hint of sarcasm, anger, or resentment:
- “I noticed that last week, when you went to your daily support group meeting, you were so calm. This week, you only went to one meeting and you have been yelling at the kids and me non-stop. Wonder if there is a connection…”
- “You came in last night at 3 AM and I heard so much noise, it woke me up. I went back to sleep. Then, when I woke up this morning and went downstairs, I saw that my best vase had crashed to the floor.”
BALM® talk is, of course, preferable to nagging, begging, judging and pleading. It simply relays facts, in a non-judgmental way, so a using or otherwise struggling loved one can see their own behavior without the defensiveness that results when accusations and judgments are thrown.
And yet, is that ALL a family member needs to do to be their loved one’s best chance at recovery?
There is more.
And that more is called “Walking the Talk.”
Walking the talk is about relating to our struggling loved one in new ways and also Being A Loving Mirror to ourselves. In other words, it is about honestly looking at our own challenges and becoming willing to grow in many of the same ways we are asking our loved one to change.
Perhaps we are not drug, alcohol, or sex addicts.
Maybe our issue is food or gambling or smoking or overworking.
Walking the Talk is about a family member being willing to look at his or own behavior and face those pieces of self in need of healing.
Of course, this is not an overnight realization nor does action always follow realization.
(See Lesson Two of the Daily BALM® to better understand principle 2: Change Happens in Stages)
And, if you are new at family recovery, or in an acute situation with your loved one, your attention may well need to go to learning how best to help them first.
Then, during the times when things are going better with our loved one or when nothing we are doing to help them seems to be ‘working’, we can, instead of going back to living life in our own numbness, choose to be owners of our own lives and attend to our own growth.
If you are not ready to do so today, don’t panic. Take your family recovery one day at a time and keep this blog as food for thought.
Ultimately, these experiences of recovery and relapse have given me more empathy for my loved one’s challenges. And again, I come back to facing myself and seeing that there is no one else responsible for my own recovery but me.
Is there an area of you life waiting for you to address anew? If so, drop me a line and let’s talk!