Just over twenty-four hours ago I awoke at 3am with flu-like symptoms. With a fever that spiked somewhere between 101 and 102 degrees and aches and chills everywhere, I was down for the count yesterday. Thankfully today I am back to par and am glad that I spent yesterday doing nothing but laying in bed and taking care of me.
Being a recovering alcoholic and addict, I’ve come to learn there is a difference between being selfish and taking care of myself. I came from a family where there was always an angle for everything. All actions arose out of some end desire for either of my parents. I too became this way as I grew older and immersed myself in addictions. Day in and day out I sought one of my addictions and nothing was going to get in my way of living in them. If I did anything that might have been deemed kind or nice by someone else, I had an angle behind it. Over the past year as I have transcended into a more God-centered life, I have been able to see these patterns and begin to remove them from my life.
Yesterday, as my fever was spiking, I had to make a choice to not attend a commitment I had made to speak with a few others at a detox facility. For someone else that decision may have seemed like a no-brainer. For me, it was a little more complex. Having lived for much of 22 years completely selfish and self-centered, I have spent much of this past year getting out and doing what I can with no motivation other than to help others heal. One of those things is going to speak at various facilities where the still suffering alcoholics and addicts go for treatment.
I asked myself the question multiple times yesterday if it was being selfish if I cancelled on my commitment and stayed home. Part of me continued to say that there were a lot more people worse off than how I was feeling. Thankfully with the aid of my therapist as well as my spiritual advisor and sponsor, I thought things out further on how it would be if I did show up. Would I really have been effective speaking about my experience, strength, and hope in front of a group of people as I shook uncontrollably? Would I have been able to show convincing testimony of the benefits of God and AA while dozing off with the fatigue I was battling. Would I be able to show the happiness and joy that I normally have in living in recovery and serving God? The answers to each of these questions after much thought was “no”. I decided because of that, it wasn’t selfish for me to take care of myself and stay home last night. The action of going could have put others at risk on both a health perspective as well as a recovery one. And just as important, it could have made me even unhealthier.
Living a life for as long as I did selfishly does add some complications to my normal thought processes about things like what happened yesterday. Much of my prior life, when I was active in addictions, was filled with excuses that I was too tired, too depressed, too anxious, or too “anything” to get out of myself and help another. In most of those cases, all of those things that I made excuses for, were brought on by myself and arose out of my addictions in the first place. In contrast, how I felt in the previous 24 hours was out of my control. When I awoke this morning and felt 100 percent better, I realized that my choice to stay home and take care of myself yesterday was the best thing I could have done.
Thankfully, with having a much stronger recovery from my addictions today, I have the support in my life from a few individuals and from God to show me that sometimes just taking care of myself is the best action to follow.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson