Selfish?

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” - Oscar Wilde

I always thought it crucial to be a little (or a lot) selfish in the early stages of recovery. It’s your Me time. Your time to heal. Time you get back from your youth all that you lost. Eventually, however, it’s something you need to give up, maybe not completely, but enough to allow  you to recognize your responsibility and your adult obligations. Because let’s face it, you’re “supposed to be” giving and you’re supposed to learn how to share and compromise in a healthy way.

But not everyone agrees. SOme think it’s wrong to be selfish any time in recovery. One addiction website offers two opinions on selfishness in early recovery. One takes my stance above, that selfishness in early recovery is necessary. But here’s the other:

2. It’s wrong to be selfish in early recovery

In active addiction, addicts and alcoholics are by nature selfish. Addiction is a self-centered disease, which not only feeds on the mental, physical, and spiritual elements of the self, but drains the lives of loved ones. Responsibilities and obligations do not matter to the active addict, but should become more important to an addict in recovery. Otherwise, it is unfair to the people that have been “taken hostage” during addictive periods. Continued selfishness in early recovery can be a refusal to grow out of an immature state of mind, and needs to be overcome.

So which is it? DO you have an opinion on this?

Here’s mine: I have never considered Love Addiction (and co-dependence)  to be a selfish act, but rather a self-Less act (as in, we had no identity), and so we needed early recovery to experience the Self, at least for a while. I also think it’s important to be selfish in recovery, at least in the beginning, because your focus is to maintain your values and re-learn how to grow up– something you may never have time during the years when you were supposed to be selfish (i.e. childhood and teen years). Key words though are “at least in the beginning.” There’s no place for selfishness after at least a year of heavy recovery work. And the reason is simple: you need to move forward into the next stage (Middle Adulthood: Generativity vs. Self absorption or Stagnation) of growing up if you are to have a complete recovery or a fulfilling life.

I have to be honest here and say, I am having a bit of trouble giving up some very selfish behaviors.

I don’t want to send the wrong message. I am not entirely selfish. I am a great mother who takes great pride in the way I raise my sons. I am very giving. I help people all the time when they are in need. And I will sometimes put my own needs aside if others really need my time. And yet,  I feel  like I don’t have enough time to myself. I also feel like, lately,  I am giving up too much of myself to care for others who are not my own kids. Bottom line: Lately, I feel as though I don’t want to be burdened by anyone else’s struggles. I want to be free of them, except where it applies to my own struggles which I can handle. I feel as though I have given up a lot in my life (career, goals, activities, education, etc.) that I no longer want to give up my time to other people anymore. I feel I’ve done it for too many years. That it’s MY TIME now to be selfish.

And yet…

My goal is to live with D and to invite his children into my home and if I want that,  I can’t be as selfish as I’d like to be. I can’t live a selfish life alone, with someone. 

In my journey to figure out what’s best,  I came upon this one website. I have also been reading Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” It’s mostly about the business of sales and “selling” but it has served as a great inspiration in helping me deal with others. Lastly, I recognize that selfish behavior is not entirely good or bad, right or wrong. But a choice, depending on your goals. If your goal is to advance in your career then you must make a few selfish choices to move in that direction. If your goal is to have a family and share your home with someone, you may have to make more sacrifices than you might like. Either way, it’s a CHOICE.