Sunday, March 10, 2013

Learning the Recovery Mindset

When I started recovery last summer I had no idea what I was really in for. I knew I wanted to “get in the Healing Lane” and move forward with my life. I was facing the ending of my marriage and the consequences of being a codependent. I had already been dealing with some of the issues as I understood them regarding my weight and food addictions. So I buckled up and faced into the pain for what I thought would be an intensive few months.

Several months later, and after shedding a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, I am learning to measure my progress by moments and memories. I’m not sure what I thought recovery was going to be, what was really meant by the term recovery, or what it was to require of me. Today, I define recovery loosely as the on-going life-changing transformation from dysfunction to being healthy. It asks for honesty, self-reflection, willingness, courage, fortitude, stamina, perseverance (how many synonyms can I use?!), gentleness, forgiveness, self-care, compassion, and grit. It requires putting the clock and the calendar away, and allowing time to do its work. Not passivity, yet not being completely proactive either.

One example from early on comes to mind.  I phoned Debra in desperation. I couldn't stop crying, I couldn't work, and I had no idea what to do. I was a mess. I wanted to know what book to read, a homework assignment, something…I wanted healing and NOW! She said I needed to just be with this new information that had surfaced for a while. I think she used the term "bake". Huh? Be?? Be what? Be how?? Bake? That was even more illusive to me. I hated that answer. I finally had some new revelations on some childhood issues and now I had to just be with them?

I have come to my own understanding what she means when she says this. My thoughts and emotions sometimes are just ahead of the healing. When I’m thinking and feeling “stop this pain now!”  I want to go somewhere to ease the pain. But right on the other side of the pain IS the healing. That is why it is called a breakthrough! That time in living through the pain - that is the struggle, that is the time when I just need to allow the miracle to happen. This process has occurred in my life many times in the past months, and I am learning to trust it more and more.

Today I am reminding myself this because the pain is still tough. It still hurts. Sometimes I don’t even know where the pain is coming from. There is this well that sometimes just erupts. Tears flow and it takes the recovery mindset to keep from medicating to ease the pain. With each challenge, there is something new to learn. There are a lot of tools to assist with getting through these times. I utilize a lot of them daily, like reaching out to someone, meditating or praying, reading, and writing.

I’m not sure what is up with me today. I have wanted to smoke. I mean really badly. Here it is Day 7 of no smoking and it is the worst thus far. So I’m not even sure if it is the withdrawal of the smoking that is causing the pain and tears, or if the tears are causing me to want to smoke! That is the soaking part. I have to allow the healing to catch up with my thoughts and emotions, or be willing to press into my own thoughts and feelings which is equally or more tough!

Yesterday, for instance, I was home alone and very sad.  I was facing an addiction fix – wanting to smoke or eat. I very much knew I would need to get through this. I cried for awhile, and recognized I was feeling very young. This is a sign I've been triggered and there is something else going on. I decided to comfort my inner child and to take a nap. That helped, certainly, but the feelings returned. So I decided to put on my Debra cap and began with a feelings check.
I feel like I am going to whither or disappear. Or maybe I want to disappear? I feel weak and powerless and frozen and burdened and guilty and shameful and angry and sad. Very childlike. I realize I am triggered. I want to smoke because I feel overwhelmed. Do I feel anything else? Lonely; fear. Fear of what? A fear of things coming down around me, of getting lost in the chaos and not being able to get myself out. I am transported to my childhood. There are numerous tasks and things to be done at our home.  I am feeling the fear of my dad yelling and going into a rage and then my mother crying or becoming overwhelmed and my becoming completely disconnected.
It is starting to become a little clearer to me now. I look at the tasks that need to be done in my own home and the same feelings of my childhood return. I’m not sure how this all relates, but I am able to refocus my thoughts away from medicating (eating or smoking) and back to my self-care. I reach out to a friend and weather this episode.

And now I have weathered this one. When I take the time to redirect my thoughts away from self-medicating to avoid the pain and instead work on feeling the pain and releasing it, I get a breakthrough. Writing gives me the avenue to slow down my thoughts and refocus my feelings. It helps me answer the tough questions, and to find peace through the release of my thoughts. That is a wonderful gift, which has been needed today.
Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow." ~ Mary Anne Radmacher

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