We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.Step 1 of the Twelve Steps of Al-Anon
It took me a while to recognize that my body tries its hardest to tell me when my life has become unmanageable.
Ignoring this conversation only leads me down paths of rationalization and justification, mis-diagnosing myself, and denial. My body knows something is off and learning to listen to my physical self – and honor its requests – grew from understanding myself as a whole being.
For me, many symptoms occur at different times, depending on how co-dependent I am acting. The ones that get my attention the most?
- Insomnia – while not always due to trying to control what is not mine to control, my mind will NOT shut off when I go to bed when I’m refusing to admit I’m powerless over something. I can do yoga, avoid caffeine, turn off screens, set up an amazing bedroom for sleep, and take melatonin – but nothing will stop my brain from analyze every single scenario 5 million times for the super secret answer to controlling the “thing.”
- Digestive issues – nausea, constipation, either overeating or undereating or eating nothing but crap (outside of just those days when my schedule or normal stress leads me to these) typically point me to my gut crying out for me to pay attention to control-freak-Cristine.
- Headaches – I rarely get headaches. When I do, they are usually sinus or hydration related. Otherwise, they are tension-based and I’ve learned to stop pushing through the pain to achieve my self-anointed “tough as nails” crown.
- Exhaustion – I’m not talking about exhaustion from working 16 hour days for a week, or starting a new workout routine, or not getting enough good sleep. I’m talking about the kind of exhaustion that dances dangerously with deep depression – the kind that makes you want to stay in bed all day, or watch mindless TV for hours, or not get up and shower, or even check social media. That kind of exhaustion. You’re too tired to get out of bed to pee exhaustion. It’s different. And it’s wicked hard to fight.
- On edge – not really a panic attack but a sense of needing to run for my life all day long. It’s like my nerves are on fire, or like right before I perform a kata in martial arts (yeah, I do that). It’s an electricity – low key – that engulfs my whole body prepping me for flight or fight – never freeze. I’m so used to this feeling that sometimes it’s been there for a long time before I realize I need to turn my attention to it.
Now – imagine trying to minister with a church with these physical symptoms. Not good. Not good for me and not good for my congregation or youth group or church camp or students or whomever I’m ministering with.
You would think that now that I’ve learned about these warning messages that I would avoid slipping into trying to control what I can’t control – because any one of these symptoms SUCK. And they especially suck when I slip into old behaviors and ignore my body’s pleas.
That’s why I keep going back to Al-Anon and keep working the steps. That’s why I keep listening to my body, and when I don’t, I apologize and work toward listening better.
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