These past few months have been a little rough for me. Losing my mother was something that I never would have imagined I would have to go through at this time in my life, a time when I thought I was getting my life together, obtaining a master’s degree, switching careers, and getting more involved with the CR Mental Health Team. I mean, I had it all planned out. I felt that I had everything all together. Yeah, I know…God laughs at our plans. However, my plans were feeble attempts for me to hold the illusion that I still had some sort of control over my life. I admit there are still some things I’m working on to turn over my complete will and control.
When I first started helping out with CR, I had always heard the phrase, “put your own recovery first.” I heard the words, and I had also brushed them off because I thought, my recovery is going great. I had become a leader, was covering social media, and helped out with the administration and behind-the-scene aspects of CR. I mean, if I could do all that, I had it all together. I’ve just always been that type of person to be kind of naïve when it comes to figuring out what I need and what I don’t need. I’ve always struggled with trying to balance the amount of water being poured into my well with the amount of water being doled out from it.
So after the death of my Mom, I figured that I would carry on like I usually do, still reaching out to others, still encouraging, I would be able to carry on with my mental health advocating, and life would be pretty much the same. Needless to say, I quickly realized that as time passed, I was insanely trying to draw water from an empty well. Frantically I began to scrape and scrape and dig and dip, but not a drop of water was to be found. In my grief, I realized just how powerless I really was, that I could not control my mental health. I couldn’t just go on as if nothing had happened. I wasn’t doing anything to nurture my own recovery. I was blindsided by reality and that major reality check. I had been on the journey so long in my recovery, that I forgot that sometimes, we need to revisit step one. I mean who would have thought that having years of recovery would bring us back to principle 1? Realize I am not God. Realize that I cannot control my mental health on my own. Realize that on my own, I cannot manage my mental health. I can’t do this alone.
After realizing that my well was dry, I was brought to a different perspective of what it meant to put my recovery first. It wasn’t just a phrase, it was a priority. For me, it meant stepping back from leadership. It meant stepping down from extra responsibilities that I had volunteered for. It meant utilizing my accountability partners and my support system. It meant taking the time to practice self-care. To make sure that my well is filled again. To make sure that I was holding myself accountable to following those same 12 steps that I had been following since my recovery journey began. How could I continue to lead and walk beside someone if I was not actively following the CR steps myself? If I was not seeking out help myself? If I was not following the mental health agreement myself? Nate put it best… “I cannot ask others to do things I am not willing to do myself.”
Putting my recovery first means making sure that I am willing and able to do the things that I am talking to others about doing. It means actively taking care of myself and nurturing my relationship with God. Sometimes, that means reminding myself that it’s necessary, not selfish. I have to remind myself that I model an example…an example of what making recovery a priority should look like, because for some, I may be the only chance they get to see how the recovery process works. Also, I must put my recovery first because if not, then I run the risk of relapsing and falling back into what I have worked so hard to accomplish.
I am worthy of recovery.
What are YOU doing to put your recovery first?
April Brantley, CR Mental Health Team X-Factor