Recovery is full of paradoxes. By admitting powerlessness we become empowered, we find freedom by surrendering, and if we want to keep what we have we must give it away. Another such paradox is the “selfishness versus self-care” dilemma we are faced with upon starting our journey of recovery. In our addiction we are so motivated by our selfish desires and we give little to no thought as to the wants and needs of others. When we get sober, we are told that self-care is our number one priority. But is self-care selfish? Here lies the paradox.
We are told we must put our own sobriety first. While this may seem obvious, it can sometimes feel like another selfish act. Our sobriety MUST come first because without that, we can be of little use to our fellows and the rest of the world. Without our sobriety, we will be incapable of developing the tools to deal with life on life’s terms.
In our active addiction, we practiced selfishness quite often. In actuality, we rarely practiced self-care. When we get sober, we are given the chance to rebuild our lives and that starts with getting ourselves right. We must learn to take time for our own self-care through meditation, meetings, reading, even treating ourselves to a good meal. Self-care is important because it helps us feel good about ourselves, helps us feel confident in our recovery, and helps keep us sane. The “airplane mask” example is given quite often when talking about self-care. When the pressure drops in the cabin and the oxygen masks drop from the ceiling, we are told to put our own mask on first before assisting others. It goes the same with self-care in our recovery. We cannot be of service to others if we don’t get ourselves right first.