If I were re-writing and tailoring the first half of the classic Serenity Prayer to speak to my former-self and the way I lived my former-life, it would go something like this:
Brittany, c’mon already and grant yourself some strength,
to desperately avoid the things you cannot change;
courage to continuously hide from the things you could easily change if you tried;
and enough energy to blame shift long enough to forget about your most recent self-created emergency.
Living one disaster at a time;
enjoying one traumatic moment at a time;
accepting your steady stream of conscious & subconscious crises, as the only pathway to continue feeding your tedious, tiresome existence;
Naturally, addiction won’t allow you to have any peace of mind and definitively not any calm states of ‘being’ but long before my life became all about my drug abuse and eventual addiction, I was comfortable riding the waves with crisis-mode turned on. (Click here if you are interested in learning more specifically about developmental trauma and excessive attention seeking behavior).
I was the kind of young adult who grew to love seeking out toxicity. I actively pursued people, places, and things that weren’t good for me, and if I did have anything good within my grasp, I would begin the process to sabotage. If something became too messy or had expired and could possibly be let go, I would purposefully tighten my grip. Back then you could have found me crawling around in the dark earnestly seeking dry land, hoping to god I might catch my breath. I was slowly drowning myself with waves of mostly avoidable scenarios and calling it stress. I felt most comfortable living among rapid gains & losses with really high-highs, and what felt like the lowest, lows imaginable. My day-to-day life looked and felt like an unpredictable super-cell waiting to make landfall with about as much predictability that is offered to our modern day meteorologists. And in my life there never seemed to be enough time to recoup. No time for emergency clean-up before the next storm began to develop. Yet, in the midst of it all I never understood why I couldn’t get it together.
Often, crisis-seekers in recovery such as myself don’t actually have a cut and dry, easy-fix, kind of issue to deal with. More like a complex set of emotional and behavioral issues that need to be drawn out, sorted, and managed. But as it is with recovery from anything, we all know the first step to begin healing, solving, or managing any condition is to first acknowledge that you are negatively effected by it. That is what sobriety did for me. It gave me a long awaited opportunity to catch my breath.
So, while I don’t have any fool proof tricks, tips, or advice when it comes to finding the secret to finding balance in life and I won’t even pretend to think that I have all of the answers, I do know that living crisis to crisis isn’t healthy. I do know that it can be turned around.
Here are 4 things that helped me to change my life from living in a constant state of emergency, to living a full, messy, dysfunctional-on-a-normal-level, life:
- I began to ask myself hard questions
In the beginning of the undoing, I had to purge. I cleaned mental and physical house, so-to-speak. I got rid of excess toxic stuff. All of it. I cut ties, connections and phone cords. I created distance, boundaries, and rules. I had to prune and weed and make my garden a little less cluttered so that I could see what I was actually working with.
- I took the time to listen to the truth tellers
You know who they are. They’re there and it’s likely, they always have been. Until now they have been snuffed out by unwillingness but the coolest thing about people who truly love and care about you, the ones who are actually interested in seeing you change and thrive, is that when you are ready, so are they. During my early recovery (and even now) I don’t seek wise counsel from myself. We only know what we know from our own perspectives at certain times in our lives. First, I go to the Lord. I seek out the advice or wisdom of women who walk with God. I get with people who don’t believe in ulterior motives or self-selling. These people are typically the most candid, straight-forward, advice givers especially when I need to be called out on my own crap, or if I am not sure if I am making the right decision.
- I learned things but then I put them into practice
So often I meet people who know things. They have all of the facts. They say the right things. They have the pamphlets memorized. They have stored information. I used to know a lot too. I learned that knowing isn’t enough. I have learned that you have to take intentional steps to get to where you want to go. The only way to actually replace a learned behavior and turn it into a staple in your life or a building block in your new character traits is to practice it. Use it. Plug that shit it. Do it. Be scared. Screw up. Do it again. Just keep trying. Keep doing it. It can’t become a part of your life if it’s not a part of your life.
- I continued (and still do) to reassess my motives
Why am I doing this? What do I want? Who am I doing it for? Will this help or hurt?
In my revised version of the Serenity Prayer, I tried to show you how I sought all of the wrong things in all of the wrong places. I sought advice. I wanted wisdom. I needed direction and strength but all directly from myself, the most depleted source I had at my disposal. My decisions needed to be made for the right reasons. I have to remember what I actively pursue matters. Am I seeking peace and calm as much as is in my control? It’s always good to start the decision-making process with truth.
I always (like a lot) say that contentment has by far been my most favorite perk of recovery. I am not sure I realized just how much my soul and my body and my mind and my spirit needed to find a landing-place. I don’t have to fight. I don’t have to run. I am finally okay with just being.