Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Feeling Powerless? Try Alanon!
Today I attended an Alanon meeting. Alanon is the 12 step program for family members or friends of someone with an addiction. Today I realized that Alanon is also a great resource for cancer caregivers. (And don’t we all qualify for Alanon? Do you know anyone who doesn’t have a relative or friend with addiction or recovery in their story?)
The ideas discussed in an Alanon meeting are all things we struggle with as caregivers: We are powerless; we struggle to admit our powerlessness; we try to find the right Higher Power; we have to stop making cancer or the oncologist or the loved one with cancer into our Higher Power; we need prayer and meditation; we have to stop giving advice --and the thing that is key and so, so hard to practice: We have to learn self-care and to keep the focus on our selves.
Yeah, I know, “Keep the focus on yourself”. Seems crazy but it’s true. People in Alanon know about this: at the very time it seems impossible to stop focusing on the other person is exactly when you have to shift gears and go to self-care.
And no one can do that alone. That’s why we have caregiver support groups and phone lines for cancer caregivers and places like The Hope Club and Alanon. We need each other. I need the wisdom you have today, and I’ll loan you mine tomorrow.
Take a look at the Twelve Steps. They work for cancer and caregivers too.