I owe my wife for giving me this advice. When I was on the plane coming home from my trip out East, I was reminded, during the safety briefing, that before I put anyone else’s oxygen mask on, I need to put mine on first.
This is great advice for life and relationships in general that I never ever considered. But, upon further thought it makes sense. Whether it is a chronic habit of trying to please everyone, or running myself into the ground to feel like I was providing for my family and friends or simply putting my hero complex (“I have to do it, or nobody else will”) ahead of my own health, I rarely if ever put my oxygen mask on first. Often I wouldn't put it on at all out of spite.
If I don’t put my own health and well being first, I won’t be any good to anyone. I then wind up with resentments towards everyone. I blame others for being out of shape, for not eating or sleeping well, and for not getting to do the things “I want to do.”
Too often I confused “putting my oxygen mask on first” with selfishness, when for me it is now a selfless act. It still seems somewhat counterintuitive to me, but I learn to appreciate it more each day. If I want to be a good husband, and a good person to others, it makes sense that the better I treat myself, the easier it will be.
For an addict like myself, it is especially important. If I don’t stay sober and mentally in a good place, then I can easily revert to my old self who always put my oxygen mask on first no matter what it meant for the other passengers around me.