Friday, April 19, 2013

Fortitude, Gratitude, and Attitude

I have come to accept that following each big growth spurt there is an issue that will surface. Sometimes it is within hours or a day; sometimes it is a few days. It is part of the process. I am OK with this, as it just means things are constantly changing and that whatever the situation, it will pass. On the glorious, joy-filled, fully functioning adult days, I now try to appreciate and relish the experience. It is an awareness of the little things, the preciousness of what life can be. I am eager to share my happiness with others, to offer some encouragement, to love others, and to be a light a midst the darkness.

The challenging days – like the last two – have their rewards, too. I am learning to accept and somewhat welcome these as well. It is because I look at the last nine months (actually, the last three years) and see my growth. The growth comes from awareness and change. This requires some honesty and facing my pain. The payoff is having the awareness to make the changes. Also, by facing and releasing this pain, there is a liberation and freedom that accompanies the healing. With that healing, there is the return of peace and joy.

I like the definition of fortitude: strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage. That is what I feel is required to work through some of these recovery issues. Yesterday was one of those dig deep, find-the-courage-to-endure-the-emotional-pain days. It surfaced during group therapy. It was a difficult session for me. I’m not used to having my issues be the primary focus of our discussion; yesterday was a day I needed some support from the group. That alone was tough to say: “I need support…” And then to have so much pain revealed, so many tears shed, to be so vulnerable and transparent. It was one of the biggies in the tough days column. I’ve said it before, and it is worth repeating: recovery is not for sissies. And I am no sissy! I am courageous and I face my fears. That affirmation is a sign of my progress. I wouldn't have written that before. I'm giving myself some credit today. 

It is time I write about the value of my group therapy and the importance it has become in my recovery journey. Different than my support group and my individual therapy, group offers a unique opportunity for feedback, insight, sharing, and support. These experiences are building such bonding relationships, that in times like yesterday, I felt safe to be vulnerable with my pain. It is unique in that we support each other with our own experiences, can ask questions, request and offer feedback, and don't have a specific agenda or script. It often requires each of us to be vulnerable even in our own feedback, sharing, and insight. Debra is present and offers guidance, but is clear about this being “our group” not hers.  She is key, of course, in that we all share mutual respect and appreciation of her as our individual therapist. Group offers its own opportunity for learning and growing, different and no less important than my 12-step group and individual therapy sessions.

Yesterday, I shed tears, had to draw upon strength and courage to face some buried pain. Today, I’m smiling and laughing. Isn’t life interesting? That is truly why we call it a journey. With each new experience, I see the value in acceptance of whatever the day brings with it – tears, laughter, insight, reflection, joy, pain, whatever. Drawing from this new-found fortitude, I see that the journey is becoming more and more about gratitude. No, it is all about gratitude. That’s the attitude I’ve needed all along. 

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