Alcoholic skeletons in the cupboard?
Alcoholic skeletons in the cupboard? The doors have been flung wide open on mine over the last couple of weeks. With alcoholism rife in my family, I knew I wanted to write about it, that I had something to share. I didn’t anticipate, however, that it would bring the kind of healing with my father that it has. He died over 25 years ago! (See my blog post ‘Me and My Alcoholic Dad’.) I also didn’t anticipate that the launch would leave me feeling open and vulnerable.
There are aspects of my family’s trauma around alcohol that I haven’t shared because they’re still too recent, still too raw, too unprocessed. I hadn’t anticipated that this release of my latest book would bring all that to the surface. It’s done just that, offering an opportunity to process, heal and let go. It takes time though, and it takes self-nurture and self-care, precisely what I talk about in the book. I’ve had to really practice what I preach. Be kind to yourself. Be gentle. Be patient.
I’ve been posting free audios of mindfulness practices as part of a series of Mindful Sundays for the launch. Unconsciously, last week I chose to record the Selfie Hug practice, without realising it was just what I would be needing. I uploaded it to my website for everyone to have a go. So I laughed out loud when last Saturday turned out to be World Hug Day.
One of the key tenets of my mindfulness training with Breathworks was self-disclosure. That it’s more than just appropriate when we’re teaching to share what’s going on for us; it’s actually necessary, essential. The alternative is a failure to be real, a failure to be fully present both with our own suffering and that of others. To not self-disclose is a slippery slope of covering up, of pretending to be okay when we’re not. I’ve played that game in the past, when I was a university lecturer. It didn’t work for me then. I ended up standing at the front of the auditorium feeling more like an actor on a stage. And it doesn’ t work for me now.
What I can do, embodying the principle of self-compassion, is take time out from the busy launch schedule to look after myself. This morning I took the whole morning off. Unplugged the landline and switched off the mobile. Went for a swim. Spent ages reading one of my favourite magazines. Journaled about what’s been coming up, about this precious opportunity to understand aspects of myself and my wounding that have never before made sense to me.
The mindfulness concept is that rather than resisting or pushing away what is painful, we acknowledge it with compassion and then gently step towards it. For me that meant writing about it, exploring it on paper. What’s interesting is that I only felt ready to do that after I had nurtured and consciously pampered myself with a swim and a magazine browse. And yes, by the end of all that I felt considerably better, especially, I sense, thanks to the journaling. I know I’ll have to pay particular attention to self-nurturing over the next couple of weeks. Thank goodness I’ve learnt how to put ‘me’ first when I need to. And I’m still learning…
So if you’ve got some skeletons of your own who think it’s Halloween and time to come dancing out, take extra good care of yourself. Put yourself and your needs first. Be kind to yourself. Be gentle. Be
© Catherine G Lucas 2017
Catherine G Lucas is a mindfulness trainer and the author of several books on the holistic approach to mental health. Her latest, Alcohol Recovery: the Mindful Way (Sheldon Press), is out now. Mindful Sundays are happening over at http://www.catherine-g-lucas.com. You can follow her on Twitter @CatherineGLucas or FB @CatherineGLucasAuthor.