We are faced with choices every day that can either strengthen our recovery or send us spiraling into a relapse. Choices that sometimes start with “should I eat breakfast?” And ending with “should I reach out for support?” There are seemingly a million choices we make between the moment we wake up to when we lay our heads down at night. I believe this is what they mean, in recovery, when they say “one hour at a time” or “one step at a time”.
When choices feels difficult
I’m an awful choice or decision maker. I spend so much time going back and forth. All of the what ifs are taken into consideration, and the internal dialogue is maddening. I’ve gotten better at the process, but this didn’t happen overnight. A few years ago, I decided to start making decisions that were in my best interest in order to avoid sacrificing my well-being for the comfort of others
I started big (I don’t really suggest it unless it’s necessary) by leaving my husband and comfortable life to move across country to Savannah, GA. And I set out on my journey to live a more authentic life. Because I believed this would bring me the joy, peace, and love I had searched so long for, in external things.
I realized that the only way I was going to experience and feel joy, peace, and love, was to be in full integrity with the person I truly am.
When your choices brings shame
There was much shame associated with this decision. I remember reaching out to my therapist at the treatment facility I’d recently left. I expressed the amount of shame I felt. Had I gauged my happiness to be more important than those around me? She responded, “Is your happiness MORE important than theirs – or is yours equally as important but different?” Right then I realized that, YES! My happiness is equally as important but different!
There were many lives that were affected greatly as a result of my decision to leave. What I learned though was that it was all going to be okay. All of our lives moved forward. We hurt, we healed, we learned, and we became more fully human beings because of it.
I found myself falling in line with my values, accepting and nurturing the woman I truly am.
More and more choices
I thought for sure my big decisions, like those, were behind me. One per person, isn’t that how it works? No? Well shit, I wasn’t prepared for more just yet. The universe is extraordinary because it has this unwavering belief in each of our individual ability to handle really hard things. So, true to form, my universe continued to put challenges in front of me. It was a hard year in Savannah, but it was hard in a different way. This time, it wasn’t hard because I questioned choosing to do what was ultimately good for myself. But because as I was becoming more vulnerable and authentic, these challenges were more visible to those around me. It was uncomfortable, being seen more clearly than I had ever let myself be seen before.
But where there is discomfort, more often than not, there is also growth.
Every crossroad comes with a new choices
I continue to stumble, and I continue to find myself at crossroads. Honestly, crossroads that I’d rather not be at – thanks universe, shout out from the arena below. This is my reality. I can’t sit at these crossroads and wish I wasn’t here. You can’t change your reality, but you can work with it though. That starts with making decisions that are in your best interest. Parker Palmer said, “Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” It starts with realizing that your happiness is equal but different.
So when you find yourself at a crossroad in your recovery, tap into your inner self and honor her needs.
Sometimes these decisions seem scary. Do I go to treatment? Should I tell my team just how much I am struggling? How do I tell my family, partner, friends I need to set new boundaries? I have found it to be hardest when I need to make a decision that suggests what I’ve been doing isn’t working. This triggers my pride, fear, and shame stories.
In these instances, I have an immense feeling I have failed.
This self-critical voice appears at center stage and goes through all of the things I could have done better. The thing I have to remember here is I have no control over the past, there is no sense in reliving it only to provoke shame within myself. We cannot change the past nor can we stare down our reality into becoming lush and struggle free. What we do have control over is our here and now and what we can do is make the next best choice.
We should not feel selfish or shameful for choosing to love and take care of ourselves. And we shouldn’t feel we must sacrifice our own pursuit of joy, peace, and love just to suffice another’s comfort. We do have a responsibility to nurture and build up the sweet soul within ourselves.
Make the hard choices that bring you more fully into integrity with yourself, and let the world reap the bountiful blessing of experiencing the true YOU.
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