The five most important things

Okay, so I just said that “being alive” is my most important priority. Obviously, there is more to it than just deciding to be alive. It’s gonna take some work. So this page is about the things that I consider most important to have. The list is in order of priority: if something lower on the list jeopardizes my ability to have an item that is higher, the lower priority will be dropped. But my goal is to have all of these things. They are the big-picture items of my life. This is not a page about “I will be a tenured professor by the time I am forty.” It’s a page about “this is what it will take for me to be alive.” Other goals may come and go, but these are pretty consistent. And I’m going to the trouble of listing them in part because the other stuff about starting to cope is based on this.

  • First off, I need to have the ability to choose to be alive. That means that I really do have to be willing to put myself first. You know how people are always repeating the thing about “you’re on an airplane, and you put the oxygen mask on yourself first”? Well, it’s true. But in daily life, it’s a harder choice. It means listening to my feelings, and figuring out where they are coming from. It means being able to ask someone for help even if I think it is wrong to ask for help. Even if someone TELLS me it is wrong to ask for help. Even if the first eighty people I ask can’t help me. Other parts are going to write a page about what to do when you are feeling suicidal, but for now, just hold onto this: If you are feeling suicidal, you have permission to do ANYTHING it takes to be okay. You can solve any problems that come from it later; there is NOTHING you can fix once you are dead.
  • The second need I have is for basic subsistence. I need a safe place to live. I need food to eat, clothes to wear, and access to things like medical care. This is my second priority. If it comes down to a choice between this, and anything lower on the list, this is what comes first. And, yes, that means that if it’s a choice between doing healing work and having somewhere to live, I believe it’s the right choice to put off the healing work. But… if something lower on the list is going to make a difference in whether or not I’m alive, then I’m gonna do my best to figure out how to combine the items.
  • The third need I have is for safety. This goes beyond subsistence. I need that roof over my head, and the food I’m eating, to come without risking danger to myself. It is important to me not to be abused in any way. And it is important to me to have people I can call on, who are able to help me when I need it. It doesn’t mean they will swoop in to rescue me, but it does mean they will not harm me for needing and asking for help. I deserve, and I believe everyone deserves to live their lives without fear. And that’s pretty high up there on my list, too. Thinking back to my past, this also comes before doing healing work. There were times when I knew that doing the healing work would put me at greater risk of being abused. So at those times, I chose to work on establishing safety BEFORE trying to fix the other long-term problems.
  • The fourth need I have is for healing. Yeah, there are more important things. But healing still makes the list. I need to learn how to get through the day without flashbacks, how to sleep without nightmares. What’s more, I need to learn how to trust other people, and how to have healthy relationships with them. I think people should define healing for themselves. For me, it’s complicated, and changes from day to day. The ongoing process seems to be a balance of coming to terms with my past, and learning more effective ways of coping with the present.
  • The fifth need I have is for a life that fulfills me spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. I need to have connections to other people, and feel that I have the respect of people I care about. I need to have an ongoing connection with the divine. I need work and leisure that engages my mind and my spirit. I need friends and loved ones, and I need to feel our relationships are reciprocal.
  • For me, that is what is the most important. Other goals and responsibilities can come and go. When they do not interfere with these first five things, I go ahead and do them. But when it comes down to a choice between these five things and anything else, I have to go with these.

    Since this is supposed to be a website with suggestions for coping, I’ll make an assignment (which you can TOTALLY ignore): think about the five most important things to you, and what order they are in. Make a list for yourself, and put it somewhere you can see it when you are feeling overwhelmed. Or feel free to post a comment here if you want.

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