05 Mar Through the forest, but not alone
Since I started writing about all this stuff I’ve been writing about, I’ve received a number of messages and emails from people who say they can really relate.
Some say that they find my posts hard to read because it mirrors their own experience in a way that is difficult and painful.
I think that when something gets to you in that way, it usually means that the wound has not truly healed – it is still raw and painful underneath the old, worn band-aid you managed to paste over it, way back when. [Or maybe not way back when – maybe even just yesterday, or last week.]
I love getting feedback, and I am grateful that what I’m sharing resonates with people, even if it initially causes pain. The pain means something is there to be healed, and I urge those of you who have had those reactions to welcome them. They mean you’re still alive.
That being said, I can also sense from some of the feedback a fair bit of frustration, and even confusion. Like you’ve tried everything, and it still isn’t getting worked out – it still isn’t getting better.
I know it probably sounds like I’m throwing all this out there and blathering about how I’m all better and got through it, without adequately explaining how. And the thing is, I can’t map out anybody’s journey for them – we all have to find our own way through the spiritual forest, so to speak. But there is a way. You can trust me on that. If there is a will, there is a way.
I do want to share more about my journey in the future, in the hope that maybe it can be of help. But it has been a lengthy process, and not one I can do justice to in a few posts – at least not the way I want to. Things didn’t happen overnight, but living in recovery mode has become a lifestyle, and one that today is fairly effortless. You adopt a set of tools that you work with, that become an automatic way of meeting difficulties and setbacks. One of the most essential things I’ve learned is that you can be content and even happy in any situation, if you let go of the notion that things have to go “your way”.
Here are a few things that have served me well:
- Acceptance. You have to accept your situation for what it is. If you’re in an abusive relationship, you have to acknowledge that you’re in an abusive relationship. If you’re in a huge amount of debt, you have to accept that you’re in a huge amount of debt. If you’re 40 pounds overweight and unhappy with it, you have to accept that. Whatever. Just don’t keep telling yourself it’s not what it is. Acceptance is the first step to changing.
- Surrender. You have to give up. Whatever your struggle is, whatever windmills you are fighting, you have to realize that you’ve been fighting a losing battle. Your strategies for changing the situation have not worked.
- Find support. Get professional help if you need it. Or join a support group. Or both. I’m a huge fan of twelve-step groups, for example. They have those now for just about any compulsive behavior there is. Just realize that you can’t do it alone, and you need support. There’s no weakness in that. On the contrary, it takes great strength to admit that you are powerless to change your situation alone.
- Cultivate your spirituality. You have to believe in something other than your own willpower. No matter what your concept is of a higher power – whether you call it God, or The Force, or Nature, or the Great Mother, or whatever, just believe there is a force of good in the universe that can help you when you can’t help yourself. Miracles can happen. Really.
- Take responsibility. Get honest with yourself. Get honest with other people, too. Don’t self-righteously blame others for your shortcomings, failures or mistakes. Don’t blame yourself, either. You’re human. You don’t need to be perfect. But you do need to own your own shit, just like others have to own theirs. You need to see your own part in the things that went wrong, to forgive yourself, and to ask others to forgive you if you’ve hurt them. Self-justification and self-pity will not serve you well, and will probably hurt you most of all.
- Be gentle with yourself. You’re probably very fragile, so be careful. All this stuff doesn’t have to be done overnight. It can take years. But it does need to be done if you want to become a strong person with your feet planted firmly on the ground.
- Hang out with good, positive people. People who appreciate you, who are honest with you, and have the qualities you want to have. Ditch the people who bring you down, who moan and complain, and who poison the general morale.
- Keep monitoring yourself. Pull up the weeds in your own garden. Be on the alert for the things that hurt you – inside you – and get rid of them as soon as you can.
- Know that you will find your way. You’ll grow at your own pace and in your own time. If you are committed to living fully, the people and experiences you need to grow will find you. Just be open, and trust the process.
And now, go forth and prosper. 😉