As I move forward, I find the trek is different than before. It's a trek affected by so many variables contributed by my success, struggles and my most sincere desires of today and for tomorrow. As someone who, at my heaviest, was a source of constant excuses and rationalizations--and then chose to rise above them in every way, I'm acutely aware and much less accepting of anything resembling an excuse or rationalization. Is it a case of being too hard on myself? No. Clearly not... It's simply a place of understanding where excuses and rationalizations for not doing the best I can, are clearly identified as such--and unless they're legitimate (and they rarely are), I automatically see through them and that takes me to a deeper place in thought. Knowing and understanding this excuse vs. action dynamic doesn't exclude anyone from struggle--Lord knows I've proved this to be true in many ways. Once the truest nature of the excuse/rationalization dynamic is revealed--it leaves only one option: Action. As in, doing.
Okay--so there is another option, sure--but it requires a retreat into the dark abyss of denial--a place where we forcefully ignore the truth in what we've learned about ourselves, a place where we deny our proven capabilities in exchange for self-destruction despite knowing a better way. Why would we choose this less than desirable option? Because it doesn't require much effort. It's easy--we flip a switch to the off position and we proceed--occasionally reminded of the better way--and pushing it back further anyway.
Recovery takes effort. The rewards are enormous. The alignment with our truest desires for internal peace and happiness is found in our thoughts and actions, the doing--and there's peace to be found, instead of turmoil, instead of struggle, instead of running against the grain of good--there's peace, harmony and success--just waiting for us to break free from whatever is holding. And isn't it a massive revelation when we discover the only thing truly holding us back, is our own thoughts?
I was so moved by a recent email I received, I decided to bring out the essence of the message for discussion on my facebook page. I've received several similar messages over the last four-plus years--but for some reason, this one just hit me harder...And it probably did because my recent struggles have taken me back--re-acquainting me with the thoughts and feelings described.
First of all--any email anyone sends me is private--and with this respect and consideration in mind, I asked the sender for permission to share--even though she wouldn't be identified in the least. I've done this before because sharing and relating is important, one on one--and with anyone who might be helped by the exchange. The facebook post received several replies--including one from Dave--the radio personality across the studio hallway from me. Of course I know Dave as much more than a radio guy--he has experience and wisdom about many things---especially recovery.
The facebook post:
"A message I received yesterday: “I'm so lost and hopeless at this point. Why can't I grab control and do this? It feels impossible.” Where you are is a familiar place for so many of us. You're not alone. The negative emotions you're feeling and these thoughts are not giving you an accurate perception of reality. Because reality is, there's hope. And there's plenty of people who are living and managing—and at first glance, it may appear they have it “easy.” I assure you, they're no different than you and me. There's an army of support for you. Just know, you have it inside you—this seemingly impossible ability to choose change—I guarantee it's there. Release the anxiety laden thoughts trying to convince you otherwise. How do I know it's inside you? Because I once (and a few times since) felt exactly the way you've described...and I found it in me."
"If I comment on Sean's status it is usually to give Sean a hard time, which he takes in stride and good humor, but today I want to share something in hopes it might reach the person who sent Sean the message about being "lost and hopeless". You see, I once felt profoundly lost and hopeless. Those feelings were horrible, but what I didn't know at the time was that those feelings were about to be the very thing that helped me break free to a new life more wonderful than I could have ever imagined. 25 years ago I had reached the end of my rope and it was all I could do to just hang on. Then I let go of the rope with one hand and reached out for help. I couldn't believe it when the people who answered my cry for help told me to let go with the other hand too! I thought, "Cant you see I'm barely hanging on here!?!" They explained to me that what I was holding onto wasn't going to help me. In fact I was holding on to my old self, my old way of thinking. They shared with me that I felt lost because I was lost, my old map was never going to help me because I was following it when I got lost. They also said I felt hopeless because hanging onto my old beliefs was no hope and deep down I obviously knew it. I couldn't argue with them because they made too much sense AND I could tell by the way they talked that they had been right where I was and had found a way out. Well I did let go, against everything in me crying out to hang on, I let go. What I found was that I did NOT plummet to my demise as all my fears had told me I would if I let go. Instead I was for the first time in a long time free. I was free from the strongest bondage that can ever exist. Those are the bonds that hold me in place, not because they are unbreakable, but because I cling to them. So if you feel lost I encourage you to look around and realize you are lost. And if you feel hopeless know that only by reaching out for help can you find hope. Real hope, real change. After all, as it was for me, I'll bet it is the same for you: All my best thinking got me lost and hopeless. Quit hanging on. Let go and fly."
That's golden. Thank you Dave!
To me, letting go and flying is about opening my mind to the spiritual side of this journey. Praying for strength, reaching out to friends and continuing to take one step at a time in a direction I undoubtedly know is right and good.
There is hope for all of us. Recovery isn't reserved for the lucky few--it's claimed by anyone who truly desires and is willing to walk in the direction of their individual truth. It doesn't have to be some grand movement--just positive movement forward with faith, intent and deliberate action.
Speaking of deliberate action... While I'm sweating on the elliptical this afternoon--getting lost in my music and pushing myself toward a good workout, I'll be reinforcing positive thoughts about this entire journey. With intimate knowledge and experience on both sides of the mental battle, I've learned something I keep repeating every chance I can: Our thoughts have real power. We gravitate toward these thoughts--and so, minding them is just as important as planning our meals and scheduling our workouts.
I plan on weighing again Wednesday. I look forward to sharing more of my progress along the way as I proceed to lose what I've gained. I say this, knowing that recovery isn't simply measured by pounds on a scale. It's measured by the level of care and importance we give to ourselves and our journey...and when we're moving forward and taking care of the inner workings of our mind--the outer results come as a side-effect. My best to you--and thank you for reading.