I thought I lost my pain…but it found out where I was hiding. -Michele Whitney
Over the past few days, I’ve had a combination of small experiences that got me off balance. They weren’t major experiences, just normal everyday stuff; a disagreement with utility companies; argument with the cable guy, dealing with difficult people over the phone, less than helpful customer service reps, and stuff like that. The experiences weren’t life threatening, and for the most part, have all been resolved. But for some reason, these simple experiences were triggers for me this week. A recovery friend suggested,
When those little things bother you to the point where you’re off balance, take a moment to examine what’s going on, it could be something bigger happening.
I had been coming to what I considered some great theories about my life and some great spiritual awakenings, and was sailing on to the calm waters of acceptance about some things. I was at peace. Things were beginning to look pretty perfect…as perfect as perfect can be in my life.
But I’ve noticed that the problem with this is that I’m often fooling myself in thinking I’m in this “acceptance” phase. For me, there is a thin line that runs between acceptance and giving up. I’m usually more along the lines of giving up when I say I’m at acceptance. At this point I usually have to go back and review recovery step 1:
[Paraphrased] I am powerless over (fill in the blank with whatever is driving me crazy) and when I believe I have power over (person, place, thing, situation that is making me crazy), my life is unmanageable.
Melody Beattie summarizes step 1 this way: “It is acceptance of what is. We can’t change things we can’t control, and trying to do that will make us crazy.”
I think the little triggers…these little things that go wrong remind me that life isn’t always smooth sailing, and that there are so many things I have no control over. I think it brings up issues of the constant uncertainty in my childhood. It reminds me that even though I may feel better at a given moment, I really don’t have it all figured out. I will never have it all figured out. As another recovery friend of mine so eloquently reminded me a few days ago:
When you have it all figured out…that means you’re dead.
Okay, so when you put it like that, it makes me really glad that I don’t have it all figured out. But I get so angry at myself, when I think I’ve worked through a particular issue and I still experience emotional pain about it. I get tired of feeling the same stuff over and over again. But then another recovery friend reminded me of something important when she told me,
I think that its beautiful that you are feeling these feelings. Remember, before recovery, we didn’t even do that…we were numb to that stuff.
It always comes back to those darn feelings. So maybe the acceptance is not only for the situations we are trying to accept, but in accepting what and how we feel about them. That’s pretty powerful.
The moral of this blog post: Get yourself some recovery friends, they are pretty amazing. <3
- Beattie, Melody (2009). Codependent No More (Kindle Locations 2752-2753). BookMobile. Kindle Edition.