Per my usual, I am still trying to find balance, routine, and consistency with regard to posting. I am back to writing daily, but my posts are still a long way between. Real quick, my last post, a book really, ended with my personal thoughts on changing a person’s values in order to truly recover from addiction and other mental health struggles. This is my blog and my personal opinions based on what I have done for myself (which is based on reading almost the entire self-help section of my bookstore, mental health counseling, and 12-step).
I do not disagree on the importance of one’s home and lifestyle, of family and friends, of church affiliation, employment, education, pets, nature, hobbies etc. I find them all important to a well-rounded life. What I disagree with is continuing to value the people, places, things, and situations that made me suicidal, depressed, anxious, shell-shocked, frightened, and generally f*d up in the first place. For me, continuing to “value” what made me this way is dumb. Threading those things back in LATER, when I am much healthier, much more solid in myself, much more discerning for my well-being, much much stronger, and truly ready for what they bring my way; can be done. I am not advocating disowning one’s family. I am not suggesting cutting all ties to the past, turning away from one’s up-bringing, or permanently destroying our place in the Known Cosmos; what I’m advocating it that those things not be one’s core values if one wants to build a life based on recovery.
Two and a half years ago I sat in a day hospital break-out session on “Values”given by an old white religious guy. Problem number one. Everyone around me was calling out things to write on the white dry erase board. The group contained a surprising spread of demographics. Three different colors of people, three or more religions represented, a decent spread of education, household income, and employment statuses, married/single, gay/straight/, using/clean, veterans to the program and newbies. But despite the diversity, everyone said the SAME THING. They all valued things outside of themselves, things that did not necessarily put a roof over their heads, pay their bills, keep them from drinking/drugging/addicting. My point is that when it came to the “values” session, the dry erase board looked exactly the same both times and every person in both groups of people said exactly the same thing (of those who spoke, I know..). That was problem number two. It was a colossal re-run. And for some of us there, the whole experience was a re-run, and for others a re-run of a re-run. NO CHANGE.
Doing the same things over and over but expecting a different result is “crazy” right?
Here are my suggestions and what I said on my second tour through the day-time mental hospital.
I have five base values. They are for me to be able to take care of myself. They may seem selfish, but I think I deserve self-care since this is where I am sitting for the second time in two years, and on the second major mental break-down in 14. The statistics don’t look pretty after this. This is what I base my life on, and my life depends on it.
The room was silent. No one spoke for a minute or two. Then someone said, “I never thought of that”.
I think they may have meant that they didn’t think of “values” as something for themselves personally. I think most of the people in the room had on rosy colored glasses and I took them off. I tend to point out reality. Many of us were in fact not safely off the streets, not safe in our homes, not safe among our “values”. Even the staff had to think on this. Problem number three. That bothered me a HUGE amount and almost up-ended my time there.
I don’t know how to use line spacing (and a bunch of other things) on WP so this looks long and I want to keep this post short. I want to leave time for anyone reading to ponder my suggestions. It isn’t that my mother, or child, or best friend, or education isn’t very important to me, or that I don’t value them; it’s just everything else has a place AFTER my safety needs are met. I let things back in when I can sustain them in balance with my life as a whole. I spent an entire year on each value, this year I am on Harmony. As I get along better with myself, I get along better with others, but it is hard with my desire to disconnect (hence my previous post). Next year I hope to be living in a place of stability. I’ll let ya know.
Over time I discovered that each value has an accompanying character trait that I have had to develop to solidify the value. This has been perfect for 12-step work.
I advocate for people to come up with their own words, their own core concepts that will give them a place a safety, mental health, a ground zero to start from perhaps again and again until it works for them. I’m a DIY girl. I believe the ground underneath us is stronger if we lay our most solid work ourselves out of the most solid parts we create in ourselves. I know what heals me, and I believe that most people know what heals them. I think the thing mental health needs the most is CHANGE.
None of the values on the dry erase board worked for me. They actually kept me trapped in co-dependency. They took the focus off myself and my development, even my personal physical safety.
Thanks for reading and I wish you safe.