Recovery Through Renewal

I have often read the quote: “Everyone is in recovery from something”. And it’s true. At some point in our lives we have all been hurt; we have all survived seemingly insurmountable personal challenges or we have experienced direct trauma. We are all in recovery. This journey from “hurt to healed” is the Path of Recovery. It sounds so nice and clear cut, like going from point A to point B- but as anyone who has embarked upon this path will tell you- it is anything but a straight path, anything but clear, and anything but easy.
And there is a sneaky catch too: Embarking on a healing path is actually all about the journey anyway- there isn’t really a destination. Being “in recovery” is a whole life thing. The Path of Recovery continually moves you towards a more healed and aware state. And unless you become a totally enlightened being and vibrationally break apart and ascend into the spiritual realm… you are stuck. Here. On Earth. Doing your personal work and traveling the path.
Recovery can move at any speed, go in any direction, and take any definition that is appropriate for the individual embarking on the journey. This aspect of Recovery is the part that challenges the current status quo on how our culture approaches mental illness, addiction, trauma and the criminal justice system. There is no cookie cutter method to get individuals from “broken” to “fixed”. And who is defining what “broken” means anyway… besides the person experiencing it? And what exactly means “fixed?”
One of the most defining moments on my own recovery journey is when I took a peer support certification class. What happened during that class is that I experienced a huge shift in my own self perception. For the first time ever, my mental illness was a highly valuable personal asset, instead of something I felt deep denial, shame and rejection about. Learning to accept and value my ability to face the challenges my own brain presents made me realize that I have a unique gift that I can share with others who face similar challenges.
My peer support class helped me embrace my own personal Path of Recovery. Something just clicked in me. I realized that all those things I had been doing intuitively to “try and keep myself balanced” were really very concrete steps on my own recovery path. I was given permission to “do it my own way” and gently reminded that relapse did not mean failure. I also learned something else: Staying on my Path of Recovery is MY responsibility.
(You mean it’s up to me?!?)
For myself, and I will venture to say for a large number of us, consistent self care is a huge aspect of remaining firmly on the Path of Recovery. What “self care” means for you is just as personal of a definition as what “recovery” means for you. My own formula of self care (and yours will be different) includes practicing Self Reiki daily, receiving regular bodywork, running 2-4 times a week, enough alone time, and talk therapy. And recently, after some very clear(ly ignored) warning signs began presenting themselves, I have added nutritional counseling and yoga.
I will be the first to declare: “That is a lot of work and I don’t have time for all that! I’ve got three kids, I run my own business, I volunteer, I’m busy, busy, busy!!”
And I will also be the first to admit: “I don’t NOT have time either.” Because when I do not take care of myself- my Path of Recovery begins to look a lot like a disappearing trail in the middle of a dark and scary forest.
I have realized through learning experience after learning experience that keeping my cup full and overflowing, especially during stressful times (which is ALL the time!), is critical in keeping myself well. It is a responsibility to my family, to my clients, and to me to engage in active self care. To say “No” when appropriate, to take space when I need it, to express myself clearly and keep my focus on the journey- not some imaginary end goal of “I’ll be fixed when…”Aha! My personal Path of Recovery is through Renewal!
Coming to the realization that my Path of Recovery was through Renewal was another profound shift in my perspective. Suddenly, activities that our culture labels as “indulgences” were things I needed to engage in so I could be the person I know I am capable of. It caused me to reevaluate things I would feel guilty about and where I was prioritizing my finances and time. I changed my attitude on catchy phrases like “Our employees are our most valuable resource!” (Wait, I’m self employed… that means I am my most valuable resource! What have I done to support myself today? )
As a person who has decided to own the responsibility of her state of recovery (Am I on the path or lost in the dark, dark forest?) and as a person who firmly believes we are ALL in recovery from something… I encourage you to do an inventory of your own state of recovery. Make a mental sign post for yourself of where you are at now, engage in a routine of consistent self care activities and then in some months reassess your state of recovery. My guess is you’ll be so far down the path…you’ll have to squint to see where you’ve come from.
I’d love to hear what you do for self care and how it has supported your personal Path of Recovery! Share your recipe for renewal in the comments section below.
Self Care Suggestions: (Just to name a few)
Therapy (talk, expressive arts, somatic, etc.)
Reiki Sessions
Massage Therapy
• Attend a social gathering or go on a date with your spouse
• Take a warm bath at least once a week
• Yoga or Tai Chi
Take a fun class!
• Knit
• Read a good book or watch a movie
• Exercise
• Journaling

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