Earlier this week I had someone in my life pass away. A former coworker of mine. He was a talented painter, a man who treated everyone the same and someone who could always make me laugh. He had a great talent for making me crack up laughing in stressful situations. Aged 58. Dropped dead suddenly from a heart attack. While it was a shock to hear the news- I can say I was not overly surprised.
For all of his great qualities my friend by all accounts drank too much, smoked too much, ate far too unhealthy and judging by the redness of his face and his fatal heart attack- had blood pressure that was far too high. He was in no way a healthy man and ultimately it was those choices that lead to his unfortunate demise- leaving behind a widow and two children.
The early morning telephone call came as quite a surprise. It was a devastating blow for eight in the morning. After hanging up I had a few moments of quietness. When someone dies unexpectedly…… at what is considered a semi young age….. of health issues……it makes you start to think of your own health. To anyone who knows me personally (or reads this blog), it is widely known that I smoke cigars far too much and it’s safe to say I wasn’t the most moderated drinker. These things started to play on my mind. And while thinking of all these different aspects of life, death and health I was reminded of something my ex-fiance said to me once while trying desperately to get me to quit drinking.
“Taking care of yourself is taking care of us, taking care of me.”
Even at that time- when I was trying desperately to not admit my alcoholism-I knew she had just said something extremely profound to me. She was right. If I wasn’t able to take care of myself I was unable to take care of her. I was unable to take care of the life and the family we were trying to make together. She depended on me in many aspects of our life. Not just in a financial sense- but she depended on me for our happiness, her emotional support, our future and many more varying aspects. As an alcoholic, I was incapable of taking care of myself. I was especially incapable of providing a life for the both of us.
I have encountered many people who think that their alcoholism or addiction is a personal issue. It’s not. It affects many people around you. It affects their happiness, their emotions, and it affects the way in which you provide for them. There are many ways in which you are not providing for them even if you are meeting your financial needs.
Many of my readers who are still practicing addicts have kids, a wife, a parent who needs them or friends who need them. And just as I had to learn (the hard way), hopefully they will learn how to beat their addiction and become capable of taking care of themselves and their loved ones.
Whether it is your diet, your addiction, your mental health or any other aspect of your health there are always ways in which we can improve ourselves to improve the lives of those around us. Taking care of yourself makes it easier and gives you more opportunities to take care of those you love. To be the provider you wish to be. It gives you the opportunity to be around longer for those who love you and want you to be in their lives longer. Even the most degenerate alcoholic has someone who loves them and wants them to be on this planet longer. So what can you do to improve yourself that will improve your life and the life of those around you? Is it beating your addiction? Getting the professional mental help that you need? Changing your eating or smoking habits? What is it you can do?
Take care of yourself so you can take care of those who you want to take care of.
- For John.