Thursday, June 6, 2013
I thought of putting up a "Gone Fishing" sign on my blog this week, as I had made a promise to myself that I would post happy, inspiring things here. I am breaking that promise to myself and my readers (badly), in the hope that my openness will help others who are hurting.
This week sucked. In fact, the past couple of weeks have pretty much sucked. You see, we have a loved one who suffers from addiction. Addiction sucks. Anyway, our family member's latest fall came the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. We received a call that he had been found in pretty rough shape in a motel room 500 miles away from home and was taken to the local hospital for emergency care. We dropped everything and drove, praying the whole time that we would find him alive when we got there. By the Grace of God he survived, but it was several hours before we could find appropriate care for him. We left to drive home at 3 a.m. Saturday morning, having gone more than 30 hours straight without sleep. It was trying, to say the least.
Although I handled the immediate crisis quite well, once home I began to crumble. I was worried, anxious, exhausted and depressed. I was completely worn down from living the past several years in constant crisis mode, and sadly, I know some of you can relate.
Yesterday I listened to an interview with Dr. Judith Orloff on the Hay House World Summit. I felt as if she were speaking directly to me. She described Empaths as those of us who are more than just empathetic, we actually absorb other's emotions into our bodies. In short, we are emotional sponges. We can be among strangers and sense that someone is angry or having a hard time, and that will affect us for the rest of our day. We can't seem to shake things off the way others can. This is not a healthy way to live (well, it can be if everyone around you is happy and positive, but seriously, how often does THAT happen?).
So how do we cope with sadness, with pain, with negative energy? The answer is boundaries. In my case, it's telling my loved one, "Look, I'm here for you and will support you on your journey to wellness. But please know, if you continue to make poor choices, you will have to face the consequences alone. I cannot save you." Not an easy thing to do when you care for someone deeply, at least not without some degree of guilt.
The best advice comes from the airline industry: In case of emergency, put your oxygen mask on first. Because really, you will be of help to no one if you, yourself, cannot breathe.