Oxygen Masks

On a recent business trip, I had to fly to Oklahoma City.  I sat through the requisite safety briefing.  I always pay attention as I feel sorry for flight attendants.  Next to evangelists standing on a soap box in the public square, there are few others as ignored as these.

I realized something when they got to the oxygen mask portion of the briefing.  “In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling.  Please place your mask on before securing those of others around you.”

Oxygen Masks

Oxygen Masks

My family and father demand so much time and energy.  The needs are immediate, and often in the midst of a crisis.  By the end of each day I often feel as though I am reaching into my ankles for internal reserves. 

We’ve signed on as a family for counseling.  The counselor eyes grew wide as we shared our recent trials and tribulations.  We’ve walked in the pain so long it’s a pair of worn shoes, shaped to our feet, all sharp edges scuffed away.

My goals were simple.  Gain skills and help for my family to endure this time and come out stronger.  I wanted them to be okay.  I gave no thought to me.  None. Whatsoever.

In a future blog I’ll write about slaying my inner martyr.  I gave no thought to me because I don’t know how to think of me.  Truly, to love myself abundantly is a laughable, fluffy idea like cosmic cotton candy.

When I mentioned to my brother we were scheduled for counseling and I would be bringing my son to begin the dialogue, he interrupted in his cutting and blunt way.

“Why don’t you just go?”

Huh?

“Seriously, if you aren’t taking care of yourself then how can you be any good to the kids and Dad?”

You could hear the screeching brakes in my thinking.

There is no doubt the cabin of my life has lost all pressure and we are falling through the sky.  Cancer will do that.

There is also no doubt I have support systems I need to draw upon.  Like the oxygen masks which fall from the ceiling of the plane, there are those who will breathe new life into my lungs.  If I don’t, we all will suffocate.

I went to counseling.  I cried.  I began to learn relaxation techniques.  I felt better.  I could then put masks on my family, my own reserves somewhat enriched.

Where are the places you need to put on the mask first?  Where do you need to stop putting on others’ masks?

I’ll close with what my first choice of a safety briefing would be, the dear disco exercising Divo himself, Richard Simmons.

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