Monday, March 29, 2010

H. A. L. T.

There is this powerful little acronym used in Alcoholics Anonymous that is beautifully simple, yet crazy brilliant.

H. A. L. T.

The initials stand for: hungry, angry, lonely and tired.

It's a self-care tool that can change the lives of every single person in any stressful situation. For those of us parenting any child, but particularly special needs kids, it will rock your world. How do you stay patient? How do you not yell? How do you redirect and correct and let them choose their consequences without spinning your head around and spewing devil spawn vomit?

Again - simple yet brilliant.

Never let yourself get too hungry.

You have to eat. It's more about just not dying by starvation. It is your energy. It is your fuel. If you do not stop and take care of your intake, you will begin to shut down on every single level. If you let yourself get too hungry, then you will do the grab-and-stuff. I know all about it. I INVENTED the grab-and-stuff. Bag of cookies. Pint of ice cream. Four million pretzels ("But they're just pretzels!"). Changing your lifestyle and not keeping junk food in the house and finding yourself licking the top of the honey jar. Mmm hmmm.

Keep a stash of healthy and quick items just for you. Do it. DO IT!

Never let yourself get too angry.

You can't not feel angry. It just happens. It is triggered by something deeper. You can't help how you feel in the moment. BUT ... what you do with that anger is the clincher. Are you actively looking inward to figure out the source of your anger? Are you talking yourself through it? Are you peeling back the layers to find freedom from it? Or ...

Are you wallowing in it? Rolling around in its squishiness? Letting your mind go crazy with revenge and defensiveness?

You cannot be in that state and be patient, or loving ... or logical. Pulling yourself out of a situation and taking a mental and emotional break is key. I have a list of several "safe places" where I can put a child (or myself) so that the ranting or - whatever - can continue, but I can regroup. I cannot stay in the battle. The battle enrages me. The battle wants me. It beckons to me. The battle wants to be your friend with benefits, but has nothing long-term to offer you or anyone else.

Feel it, and then dig through it instead of feeding it. WAY easier said than done. Takes tons of practice. If you ever get good at it, don't tell me.

Never let yourself get too lonely.

Fight for community. If the most strength you find is through online connections, great! You need sounding boards. You need support. You need encouragement. It's not a luxury. It's a necessity. Is your spouse/partner pulling away? Fight for counseling and reconnection. Friends causing more harm than good? Find new friends! You cannot give what is required of you when you feel like a lone wolf. You cannot keep it together at home AND tiptoe around everyone else in your life. It will squash you. Heck - email ME! Seriously, I have made some of my dearest connections online as we've all been muddling through this together. Some days I feel painfully alone. That's when I whip out the cell or shoot out some emails. I need my other therapeutic parenting freak heads. If I get too lonely, I will disintegrate.

Don't let yourself get too tired.


Seriously. Go to bed and sleep. Leave stuff. Leave dishes. Leave laundry. Leave paperwork.


If your life is keeping you from getting a proper amount of sleep, rearrange your life. If extra activities are killing your evenings, cut those activities. If you have not learned the fine are of saying, "No," or "Due to some circumstances at home, I'm going to need to step down from that responsibility," then let me walk you through it. Everyone in your home needs sleep. Sleep is medicine for the brain. The brain has amazing abilities, whether healthy or not.

Things are for a season. You may not always have to simplify to such a huge degree. You may not always have to cut out so much. But I guarantee you, if you keep a maddening pace, you will keep falling on your face while watching your family dynamics explode.

You deserve your sleep. Get it. Enjoy it. Don't ever, ever, EVER feel guilty over it. In fact, you should find great pride in taking care of yourself.

That is really what this all comes down to. We martyr ourselves as parents a lot. We have to take care of ourselves. We have to put that oxygen mask over our own faces first, before we can help those around us. Think about these four areas and make them your red flags to avoid. Avoid like the plague. Instead of setting yourself up for failure, set your self up to kick some massive butt-oh-lah.


Mom of 3 Boys said...

Would you get out of my head? Please? Seriously God is speaking to me through you today. Thanks for being His messenger. This is exactly what I needed to be to do the hard part and put it into motion.



GB's Mom said...

Great post. Something I have not thought about in a long time. Thanks.

whtmtnmom said...

Thank you for this post. I am going to re-read it every day until I get somewhere with it. Hungry and Tired I think I can get a handle on (at least as soon as our 3 y.o. eases up with her night terrors a bit!), but angry and lonely...gonna take some work. Thank you for another great post!

Ms. Trish said...

thank you for this great reminder.

kristal said...

totally needed to HALT this weekend, and didn't. the result was not pretty. to be honest it was pretty freakin ugly. i actually (per my husbands request, er, demand) just called a cleaning/laundry lady to see how much she could get done on our little budget. as my mom said on the phone to me...."anyone can do your laundry, but not anyone can parent your's worth the money, kristal." not that everyone can or should get domestic help, but as you said, we need to simplify, to say no, to leave things undone, because the ones we're parenting need someone very unhungry, miraculously unangry, annoyingly unlonely, and blissfully untired.

Azul said...

Um... let's see

I slept five hours last night; more than I usually do.

I'm eating black jelly beans at my desk because I was too rushed to pack a decent (or even an indecent!) lunch for myself before I raced in to work this morning.

I miss my husband, but I avoid talking to him about it because he just changes the subject and it makes me sad.

Yeah, I'm not doing so well on the H.A.L.T. front.

You've given me lots to think about today, as always.

The Lundys said...

ha! i'd just seen this halt and thought wow, i need to apply that to my kids. didn't think to apply it to me, sheesh!! thanks! :)

J. said...

You are right. There is no taking care of any one else if you are not taking care of yourself and so many Mama's get stuck in the "perfect" mama or the "exhausted" mama or the "angry" mama role and none of them really work. A good parent is one who practices some self care and teaches their kids to do the same. I often say to my kids - I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by ____ and so I am going over here to gather my thoughts, leave me be. It works, it shows them other ways to cope and I keep my cool.
Take time off just for you is an important one that lots of us don't do as well. I had a whole blog post about it awhile back. I write it in my day book, it usually Mondays. Today once I got my kids out the door this a.m. I sat down at the computer and spent most of day here. Mondays are my day to do whatever I want. I must confess I have done one load of laundry in my time but that was because of a wet bed last night and Mama was out of clean underwear, but that also meant I spent the whole day in my pj's... and I do not feel one ounce of guilt over it. Now I have to go get my kids from school and I am happy, regulated and ready for there little disregulated beings.

Anonymous said...

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

I need to remember this and not "suffer" from Each.

Becky said...

You rock! I need to hear this sometimes. These kids are draining and we need all of those things to keep our batteries charged to fight the good fight against (not with lol) their issues. I do feel guilty about the things I do for myself sometimes though so hearing this helps me remember that I deserve and need it as much as they do.

Thanks for all your help!

:)De said...

Thank you.

HomeSchool Mommy said...

Ahhhhh....exhaling a huge one, here. Today, I have eaten chips, goldfish crackers (which I don't even like). It is 4 o'clock. That is unacceptable. Oh...that was after getting only a few hours of sleep last night. I NEEDED to read this today! SO powerful in my life! THANK YOU!

The Hills said...

Fabulous post. I'm posting the link on my facebook. Just this afternoon I was on the phone with my husband admitting that I had gone too long between meals and was short-tempered with the kids because I was hungry. Working towards patient day at a time!

Diana said...

Sha-bang! Love you! Hope you had a great weekend.

I'm a grab and stuffer myself...and now I'm an overweight, diabetic grab and stuffer. Please share some ideas for healthy grab and stuff stuff. :-)

Emily said...

Great post. This is something I think about with some regularity. I'm not an addict, but I find the things I hate most about myself come out in exactly these situations.

I wish there was another initial for being sick/in pain. That also brings out my worst.

BeckyJoie said...

This was one of your best posts ever! REALLY. Haha, I can so relate about the honey jar. I can remember combing the pantry for any resemblence of sugar. I found prunes and a jar of honey. LOL. I grabbed a spoon and down went a scoop of honey. LOL. I felt like I had a chocolate donut that night. I hadn't had sugar in so long that the communion wafers at church tasted sweet. LOL. Okay, I'm a bit giddy and airheaded. I need some sleep. I have so many things yet to do and my kids have been "Rad"ish all weekend and today too! But, I must listen to your wise advice and refresh my brain before I totally lose it. I'm so tired I can't believe the comments and status updates I've been posting on social media lately. I think people believe my keyboard has been hijacked or something. Here I go, rambling on like a drunk and I only drink water, herbal tea and almond milk. LOL. You should see me with caffeine or sugar. LOL. Good night. I'm going before I totally embarass myself.

Anonymous said...

I have been familiar with this acronym for many years and it's a good one to revisit...frequently! When life is falling apart around here, I'm usually in need of HALTing.

Good stuff!


marythemom said...

I know that if Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, but I can't seem to HALT myself. Everything has to get done, and I'm a bit of a perfectionist who can't say "No." Thanks for this reminder. As soon as I get more than 3 hours sleep two days in a row I will process it!

Mary in TX

marythemom said...

Hope it's OK to link to this on my blog!

Wanted to tell you that we missed you at the Katharine Leslie seminar last week. I still can't believe I haven't met you IRL. I feel I know you from all the lovely comments from your fellow RAD mommas and of course from your blog. Next time you're going to be in Austin I need to meet up with y'all for lunch!

Mary in TX

Shannon said...

GREAT post!!!

I don't think I've ever commented on here before but I've been reading for a year or so. I absolutely LOVE your blog...your humor and strength in dealing with things is awesome. You have definitely helped me get through some rough moments...we deal with different things but I've taken a cue from you and your words more then once.

johnsonweider said...

this is fantastic. Thank you. Am printing it out to remind myself frequently!!! Where were you 5 1/2 years ago when we'd first adopted and I had post-adoption depression??? Oh - you were here, I just hadn't found you yet!

Desiree said...

A intense marriage retreat my husband and I took learned about H.A.L.T. It really is a great tool, no matter your situation.

L said...

Hi Christine,
I don't know if you will see this since you've written several posts after this particular one.
I've been reading your blog recently--and a few others that deal with attachment issues and trauma. I may have commented once before or maybe even emailed you. It would have been under the screenname onceachild or my name which is Lori.
I've been trying to comment under that same account but for some reason my computer is acting up all over the place these days and won't bring up your email address!
Were you serious about saying folks can email you? May I do so? I have a therapist but really I could just use a friend and/or sounding board. If it's too much, please know I won't be offended!
Hope you and your family have a nice Easter! Lori

Christine said...

Absolutely, Lori - anytime.

christinemoers [at] hotmail [dot] com

Lisa said...

Back reading this again. One of my favourites. This, and the crazy wrongness lady that spoke at TED. Thanks for your awesome blog, Christine. I certainly don't find it "insanely boring crap". ;-)