Friday, January 24, 2014

My View from the Shadows

There is a consistent theme to my recovery meditations and feedback this week: assess your progress.  On several occasions I have been asked to think on my life a year ago and then reflect on where I am today. That is Higher Power speaking to me without question. It is time to get current. I recognize that I have not posted on this blog for three months and I must admit I have some guilt over that. It doesn't feel good. This blog is an important tool for my recovery and not using it has not been to my benefit. That in itself isn't very Healing Lane behavior.

The last three months have presented challenges so very different that the previous fifteen when I have been able to describe the pace and feel of clipping along in The Lane. The growth pains, the awareness, the breakthroughs, the new perspectives, and so forth have all been a very real and tangible part of my recovery. I have been able to reflect with honesty and vulnerability my experiences.  Through the ups and downs, I managed to find myself back to that current within the Healing Lane. And then came November.

I wouldn't say today that I left the Lane. However, it feels completely different. I have been looking for the obvious signs of recovery; the obvious feelings of recovering. My biggest struggle was indeed not feeling that I was making progress. There has been a lack of tangible evidence, or so I thought. I likened it to a weight-loss plateau. I have felt a wall, a ceiling, being stagnant.  Meanwhile, some unhealthy behaviors returned. This part isn't’t easy for me, but my commitment to be honest requires that I put this out there. I returned to smoking; I began eating some foods that I normally don’t eat; and I found myself numbing in different ways such as computer games and shopping. However, in my disclosure I will acknowledge that I also finished my weaning of the anti-depressant I’d been taking for 9 ½ years. I began attending additional meetings to help me address my love addiction. I had some on-going neck and back issues (noted correlation) and a cold that lasted for a month. There were holidays and travels and perhaps worth noting, my divorce was finalized.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could easily package up our thoughts, feelings, issues and just plot out our recovery plan? It doesn't work that way. Life just doesn't work that way. And really…when it is all said and done, I don’t think I would want to be so prepared anyway. The unknown is certainly frightening. “What next?!” But it has some appealing aspects, too. If I knew everything that needed to happen, when it should happen, and how to handle it…well, first I’d have some sort of insider deal with God and secondly, I likely wouldn't need all this recovery anyway. Heck, I’d have insight that I currently don’t have and I could use it for all sorts of good. No, the appealing aspect of the unknown is that God has all kinds of ways to teach me how to handle things, and to show me His love for me by handling the things I don’t need to handle. Serenity prayer comes to mind.

Yes, it is pretty much summed up in that prayer. Learning what are the things I am to change, what things are not mine, and the wisdom to know the difference. The important lesson for me is that I am not in charge! I am (still) powerless to the things that belong to God and when I try to behave otherwise my life starts to become unmanageable. The resistance to all that has been going on with me is that I wanted to be in charge. I wanted to feel like I was making progress. I wanted to see improvement and what I eventually began to understand, is that I was trying to earn my own worthiness by doing my recovery “well”. No wonder I wasn't feeling so serene.

During this time I have been wrestling with a lot of old, defeating tapes playing while still holding onto the awareness I've obtained this far and utilizing the tools of recovery available to me. The sense of failure has been a big one. Shame spirals do not promote healing, and I have had to consistently confess that I have allowed negative thoughts to bounce around in my head. The hope I share is that I recognize that I was wrestling – I did not give up, not forfeit, not throw in the towel. I remained in the battle. That recognition and affirmation of my efforts is a very significant change. I can’t wrap it up and present it as nicely or clearly as some of my other lessons and breakthroughs. But it is a biggie. It is the change I have sought.

So it comes back to the basics. Acceptance. Let go and let God. Gratitude. Progress not perfection. I am so thankful for today and for taking the time to reflect on the view from the Lane. It has felt obscured, but sometimes it is shadowy and not quite so scenic. Yet, I recognize, it is still part of the journey and down the Lane I go.

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