Are We There Yet?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately (a dangerous past time, indeed) about stress; good stress, bad stress, stressed out, stressing severely, stress-free. I would love to say that I identify with the latter, but not so much as of present day. I’m working on it, as I think we all are.
When I was in recovery and learning all about cognitive distortions, mind/body connection and all of that, I began to understand just how much my thoughts drove my moods and my perception dictated my level of responsibility in my current mood. Once I started delving into that whole experience, I (temporarily) was becoming better at conscience thought and a level of mindfulness that was so much more than before. Long’ish story short’ish, the honeymoon has ended and I find myself feeling the stress, the hamster on a wheel, the rat rushing through the maze where is the damned cheese??! so I had to ask myself what in the Sam Hill was I doing? Clearly, something was not working and I needed to take a little look-see and fix it ASAP or things were going to be B-A-D, not good. I have too much to lose if I overload and fold like a house of cards. So, investigating I did go and I found that there were a few key practices that I had let lapse and a few others I hadn’t implemented yet (hello Exercise!) so I did what I always do when I get a plan together and I made a list. Pen to paper, old-school, face to the paper, laying your head on your desk like in 6th grade. Pouring from the heart, I don’t want this anymore, I want this. I want to stop doing this and start doing this. I am now this person, I am becoming this person. Real conscious thought, real soul searching, just like when I was first in recovery. Hungry for serenity, aching for a cleansing of the soul, a rebirth, a new beginning. Willing to do the hard work and never quit trying. That list is my contract and my road map to realizing my True Self. It’s not carved in stone, as the road may change. It’s my starting point but I’m taking all I’ve learned thus far and with the people the Good Lord has already blessed me with and those He will place in my path in the future, this journey is certain to be fantastic. I can just hear little 3-year old Michelle – are we there yet?!

The Winds of Change

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails”

William Arthur Ward

I came across this quote back in November and wanted to write a post around it but couldn’t figure out how to convey what it says to me, specifically. I’m going to try now, so bear with me.

I’ve long believed that I was powerless over circumstances, that I was like a leaf in a storm; at the mercy of the wind, with no say in where I would go. I went along with whatever the group mentality was, never questioning whether it was what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go or who I wanted to be with. By doing this, I set up myself up beautifully for great disappointment and the role of the ever-suffering victim. I gave away my choices, my voice, my power and then couldn’t figure out why I was always so unhappy; why I had no sense of self, no idea who I was. It has taken me many years and a great deal of wrong turns, heartbreaks and utter despair to realize that no one had made me a victim, except myself.

Now, that’s all fine and good, but what could I do with that great revelation? We’re talking a lifetime of identifying as a follower, how could I un-learn all those behaviors? How could I reclaim my voice, my power? I had no clue, but I did know that if I didn’t try, nothing would ever change, except to possibly worsen. There is another saying regarding a long journey and it beginning with a single step; that is exactly what I had to do. One step. One different thought. Turning left instead of right, speaking up instead of suffering silently, making one decision to change one thing. They all add up. Just as a bad habit is formed over time, the same is true of a healthy one. I had been living this way my entire life (40-something years) and I would have to have great patience and determination if I wanted to change.

Now, a little over a year free from alcohol and I have found my voice, I am slowing realizing the extent of how much power I gave away and am in the processing of getting it back and then some. I have a greater sense of self, of purpose and of value. Needless to say, every day isn’t like a scene from some ridiculously happy and upbeat musical, but it’s good. The challenges will always be there, although their form and delivery may differ, I will still have to find the strength to make good choices while allowing myself to be human. The words “failure” or “victim” can never be used again when I’m thinking about who I am, what I am. I am a fighter and I will fight the good fight until I can no more. I am looking forward to each next day, each new lesson learned and each victory celebrated. I will keep steadily on my course, my mind focused on my destination, eyes open for whatever beauty appears and gratitude in my heart for the people that have loved me through thick and thin. And if the seas get rough, I’ll adjust the sails.