Greetings from my actual mattress in my Manhattan flat! Yes, that’s right, the days of sleeping on floor like a squatter are over. My bed frame arrives next week, so I’m still living like a meth addict with my mattress on the floor, but this too shall pass.
With the busyness of moving from Texas to New York, I neglected my daily readings from The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie. Today I picked up the book again and turned to today’s date. This passage really knocked my socks off (if I was wearing socks,) and inspired this blog post. I want to share it:
“The goal in recovery is not to show others how much we hurt or have hurt. The goal is to stop our pain, and to share that solution with others… God, help me focus on the goal of recovery, rather than the pain that motivated me into it.”
I write a lot about the comfort zone and getting out of it, but what happens when your comfort zone is based on feelings of anxiety, fear, depression, and pain? The answer is that it may feel uncomfortable to experience joy. It may feel out of the ordinary and even scary to feel hopeful, confident, and at peace.
I have experienced this in my own recovery, and it kind of sucks. I would get stuck in a loop of confidence –> anxiety –> remembering why I was anxious –> focusing on the pain of the past –> working to get back to the feeling of confidence. I got frustrated with myself and my recovery.
I thought to myself, “Why, if I’m doing so good and becoming a better version of myself, even accomplishing things, does my brain still turn to the reason I needed to recover in the first place? Why do I keep going back to the dark places?”
I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. I simply decided to stop asking it, and focus on the joy that I was experiencing today. At first, this felt very wrong and even unsafe. My anxiety and my ego were working overtime to remind of all the reasons why I should keep focusing on the pain of the past, but each and every time, I would turn to my Higher Power and my inner strength, and refocus my attention on the good. It was kind of an ugly process and a weird one, but my happiness muscles got stronger and stronger, each time I refocused my energy.
Today, I still find myself focusing on the pain of the past in vulnerable moments, afraid that if I don’t keep an on those moments and feelings, that they will sneak up on me and ruin what I have created.
That’s where trust comes in. Trust is great when you’re confident in things, but trust is actually meant for the times when you’re feeling scared. Whether the fear is about things going amazing finally, or whether the fear is about something that is going wrong, trust is the antidote.
You see, life is always a mixed bag. It’s yin and it’s yang, it’s up and it’s down. But that doesn’t mean we are obligated to return to the darkest days of our past.
Focusing on the positive things and daring to trust does not mean we have not suffered. Deciding to experience joy despite the discomfort, does not mean our past meant nothing. We must validate our pain and our trauma, but we do not have to live there.
What are the ways in which you help yourself focus on the joy and hope of your life? Do you find it scary to string together good moments? Do you carry the pain of your past with you into the joy of the present?
What would your life look like if you had a bunch of good-feeling days, one after the other? Would you feel guilty? Or would you feel free?