Friday, July 24, 2015

A Course in Gratitude

A lot can change in three years.

I am one of those people who reflects on “this day in history” and now even more so in my own life. I have always been an historian of sorts, keeping track of important dates, even getting my post-baccalaureate in education to teach history. I have a timeline running in my head that I post information provided to me from people and in my own life. At certain times of the year, the timeline becomes vibrant. Holidays are like that. Certain seasons are like that. July is very much that for many reasons, but this post is about one week in particular.

Three years ago this week my husband moved out of our house. It was unexpected and surreal in nature. I had gone to work, even plotting how to move out maybe over the weekend. I feared confronting him, anticipating a big blow-up with lots accusations and rage. What happened instead, is that his brother confronted him and within hours, he had instead moved out and I was walking the halls of my home noticing the lifting of the oppressive spirit that permeated my home for years. I walked around in disbelief. Could it have been that simple? Could the split-up have taken me more by surprise? I had wanted this for many years, not choosing it for a number of reasons. Only days before had it become clear to me that I reached the end of my rope. 

I sat on the patio for the first time in ages; it, too, was an uncomfortable place because it had that “presence” there. Now, freed from his glares, anger, and resentment, I sat with myself and my new reality. I  remember thinking, I would like a cigarette. It occurred to me that I could smoke right there on my patio and no one was there to judge me, criticize me, or create a hostile environment. I promptly went and bought a pack of cigarettes and smoked a bunch of them. It was an act of liberation for me, even if I did have to contend with the negative aspects of the smoking behavior later.

Debra was recommended to me by another therapist I had consulted to get some counsel on what to do with this new information I had learned about my husband’s behaviors. The dysfunction and disconnect at my house had become nearly unbearable as it was, and I had just learned part of the reasons why it was so. I needed help and I wanted the kind of help that produced results. I know that my Higher Power was looking over me when He connected me with Debra. What an answer to the many prayers I’d said and cried the previous 24 years. My first session with Debra was July 25, 2012. Yes, that one is on my timeline; maybe even with a little star. 

My first appointment I showed up angry at my husband, confused, hurt, and dismayed. I also showed up ready to take action. She recommended Twelve Step programs and told me I would find support. She was right. I did find support. I found a group of people that related to my story, offering experience, strength, and hope. I found out that I can recover from being the partner of an addict, from my own codependency, and from my own addictions. I am experiencing the joy of a life in recovery – the blessings and promises from working the program. I’ve asked myself, and God, why I didn’t find Twelve Step previously. I’ve come to accept that the unfolding of my life is just as it should be. I don’t have to regret the past.

In therapy, I have had had to look inward and had the willingness, fortitude, and commitment to be rigorously honest with myself. This is a requirement of my healing, usually accessed easily but not always. I have spent countless hours doing the necessary work to come to an understanding of why I do what I do, and to learn how to do something differently. It was clear that I had a low sense of self-worth and that tending to myself included putting my needs at the top of my priority list. I’ve said this many times – recovery is not for sissies. Debra has affirmed my efforts throughout my three years of working with her. It is nice to have that validation because it hasn’t been easy, and the work continues. 

I have been replaying the events of three years ago and reflecting on my life today in contrast to what it was like then. Gratitude hardly describes the feeling I have. I am experiencing joy and contentment I haven’t felt in years, if ever. I started therapy, recovery, and this whole process of “getting fixed” because I wanted to be in a relationship that included the loving exchange and acceptance of each other. I’ve learned that the relationship that needed the most healing is with myself, changed by the relationship with the God of my understanding. And now, beautifully and by much of a surprise, I am dating a man with whom I am showing up as my authentic self. He loves me and accepts me as I am. It is far better than I had ever hoped and imagined. Relationships take a whole lot of work regardless, but I now can say that seeking to be healthy and honest produces different results! My relationships with my family and friends are the best ever. Yes, life looks a whole different, and it sure looks a whole lot better!  

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