Life’s a Beach!?

foreverfragrance.com (1)Last year around this time I went on a 2-day intensive writing workshop which I thought I had loved, and oddly I have not written anything other than social media posts since then.  I found the weekend both inspiring and traumatic, and was awed by the quality of the writing, or maybe I was completely intimidated by it.  I was definitely way out of my comfort zone and recently I have found myself being in a space where I am questioning my personal and professional “why”.

Since my return to South Africa in early 2014 I have been pretty clear on what I was trying to achieve and it really feels like a lot of my goals are coming to fruition.  And that has left me with an odd emptiness.  I don’t feel like I am lost, but I am also not really sure where I am going at the moment.  It’s like I am walking along an unfamiliar beach, with the coastline on my right and the landscape on my left.  As long as I keep walking I will eventually end up somewhere, and I feel a serenity that I am not going to be walking in circles. This “vision” is extremely vivid for me at the moment and I’m taking this to mean that I am on the right path and I feel confident that I am going in the direction that my work to this stage is pointing me. I am just not overly sure on what I am hoping to find when I reach some sort of settlement.

I’m really not used to feeling like this.  The serenity is oddly unsettling, but I can still become anxious over my day-to-day professional responsibilities.  Managing a substance abuse treatment clinic is all about learning to balance the crisis, chaos and conflict that our clients bring into the environment on a daily, even hourly, basis.  Yet, I have become empowered in that space to understand that it is not my dysfunction and have started to become somewhat detached.  I do not mean that I am aloof or lack empathy, quite the opposite, but I am able to hold the space in a way that doesn’t detract from my well-being and peace.   Most of the time anyway…  There are moments when I can get quite overwhelmed and have to go back into certain relationships and own my behaviour, but that’s all part of growth as I see it.

Of course this “lull” could just be me in the eye of my (life) storm…that strange quietness that you feel when the wind suddenly dies down and there’s an eerie stillness on the streets.  Or perhaps it’s the dawn after the storm when everything is coming back to life after being beaten and bruised by the weather.  Maybe I am just connecting more with the earth through these thoughts and actually living in a more grounded, present way? It always seems easier to be the coach and assisting someone else through their process than trying to figure it out for myself.  I guess the personal work has to become embodied and unconscious at some point in our development…

I think that just sitting here and writing, the thoughts are becoming a little clearer around where I am at in my life.  I’m reflecting back to my reason for not writing and I know that ego stands arrogantly at the root of that.  Feeling “less than” or “not as good as” others who are prepared to be vulnerable and put their truth into the world.  I am reading the final chapter of “Dare to Lead” by Brene Brown at the moment, and grappling with what my two (you’re only supposed to choose two) core values are.  Picking 10 or 15 would be easy, but when narrowing it down to two, I am challenged to think about which of those I can easily identify as values are in fact my core values.   The ones that I can use to check myself in life.  And I believe that authenticity is one, and I want courage to be the other one.  Yet, when I fall prey to my inner critic around something like the writing (or lack thereof), I can hardly own up to living into my value of courage.

Maybe this blog post is about me being courageous about it and owning what I have been avoiding. I don’t think it’s only about ut the writing to be honest. I guess it’s about showing up in parts of my life that I might have been avoiding recently.  It’s about taking some time to understand myself in this new phase and reconnect with my why, from a place of self-love and -compassion.  So perhaps I am really living into my values of authenticity and courage by being able to see where I have not been very courageous recently and identifying where my egoic, inner critic is still holding court.

What I have learned in my personal recovery process is that being well is relative to the recovery capital that we build.  And at the moment I am having to work around my spirituality which I see as my connection to myself and the world around me.   This place I find myself is not one where I am driven by fear or anxiety, but rather a real curiosity as to where I am at the moment.  I know the feeling of sand between my toes, the salty taste of the coastal breeze and the reassuring rhythm of the rolling surf, I’m just not sure which beach I am walking along.  For the time being I am going the keep going and enjoy the warm touch of the sun.  I have faith that I will get to where I am supposed to be if I stay open to the experience and what I am discovering within myself.

 

 

One way ticket to Relapse City?

Man I wishThere are so many people and things that have helped me along the road to recovery.  The people I have to thank for their love and support are numerous and they know who they are, because I’ve made it my business to keep them close and show my gratitude to them often.  But today I thought I’d write about some of the things that have helped me stay sober.  Of course there are times when we all falter and days that we feel like giving up, but when these days sneak up on us or pounce unexpectedly from the shadows, what do we do?  It’s wildly idealistic as a recovering addict or even a person in long-term recovery to believe that nothing is ever going to throw us off course.  Actually, it’s downright arrogant and this along with complacency about our addictions can be our downfall, not matter how many hours, days, weeks and years we’ve been clean.

I’m ever mindful of the fact that I have an addiction.  It might be dormant at the moment, sleeping quietly in a corner, but given half a chance I know that it would be front and centre of my life again and that is never something that I want to happen.  So over the last years I’ve spent plenty of time learning about my disorder so that I am aware and educated about the different elements of being an addict.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll mention it here again, I am not my disease.  There is so much more to me than the unfortunate fact that I am an alcoholic, but I cannot simply ignore that this is part of me, because then I start to slip into the realms of denial and that’s a one way ticket to “Relapse City”.

One of the practices I have adopted over the past years is to focus on my personal development.  There are a myriad of ways of doing this, and there is no right or wrong answer to what works and what doesn’t.  In that respect it’s a lot like choosing how to approach your recovery, there is definitely not a one-size-fits-all solution.  And research, although not definitive in this area, is giving more heed to the idea that it is possibly a combination of recovery ideas that may work best for each individual.

The way I have chosen to develop myself personally is to focus on how to deepen my esoteric understanding of the world and myself.  As I am not a religious person, I grappled horribly with the ideas of having a higher power and being powerless over my recovery.  But as I progressed through the early part of my recovery I began to understand that I needed to find peace within myself and in relation to the outside world if I was going to get my life under control.  Being an avid reader and a person who is constantly in search of knowledge I turned to one of my greatest loves, the written word.  And where I’d found pleasure in thousands of pages of fiction over the years, I began to find peace and understanding as I delved into the works of the modern-day spiritual masters.

There really is no other name for them, and I am not trying to upset anyone’s religious sensibilities.   “The Power of Now” by Eckart Tolle was a philosophical awakening for me.  The ideas and practices on the pages have brought me great comfort over the years since I opened the book for the first time in the very early days of my sobriety.  I am by no means an expert on living in the present moment, but I definitely try and embrace it on a daily basis.  The truth is that living in the now, letting go of the past and not fretting about the future is a place of immense stillness and calm.  I have read this book more than a couple of times and it is always next to my bed, so that I can pick it up and use it to bring myself into the present moment.

This is by not only book I have read on the subject, and Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer & Brene Browns’ books are all stored on my Kindle so that they are always within easy access.  I also have some of their works in audio format, so that I can listen to them when I am traveling or just need to detach from what’s going on in the world around me and take some time to focus on me.  I’ve never managed to embrace the art of meditation personally, but listening to them discuss their ideas or read from the pages of their books is exceptionally soothing and meditative in its own way.  I personally think that spending time focusing on our self-development is an essential part of sustained sobriety and long-term recovery.

In the early stages of the journey we begin to mend physically.  Then we begin to heal emotionally.  But is is also hugely important to rejuvenate our inner selves.  For me this is where we begin to rebuild our feelings of self-worth and personal poise.  Where we reestablish our place in the world and begin to determine our purpose once again.  It’s a slow, focused process to bolster our spirit back to a place where we feel that we are once again a worthy, contributory member of society.  I honestly believe that if I hadn’t concentrated on this element my life wouldn’t be nearly as fulfilling as it is right now.  I’m not saying I have all the answers, that I live in constant balance and harmony, or that I am always blissfully happy.

I have confessed in my posts more than once that there are times that I wander through the day in a haze of confused emotions, but I am self-actualised enough through  my reading and intellectual discoveries to appreciate what I am going through.  To use the practices I have learned to bring myself back to the present moment, if only briefly sometimes.  To embrace the fact that it is okay to be vulnerable and scared at times, and not panic because I don’t feel like I am completely in control every minute of the day.  I am after all just a regular woman, not a spiritual master.  I have flaws, imperfections and fears, but I’ve come to realise and appreciate that that’s okay and the more I bring these parts of self towards me rather than trying to evict them from my life,  the more balance, peace and present-moment focus there is on a daily basis.  After all life is better with a clear head and an honest heart.

‘Til next time

Sober Something