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Archive for the ‘acceptance’ Category

“When one door shuts, God opens another”

I’m pretty sure most people know the cliche, but it sure is damn hard to swallow at times. Although the traditional form of this saying is fine with me, when I’m trying to reassure myself, I more often prefer to phrase it this way:

“Things *always* work out”

That’s not to say that things work out the way I want them or in the way that I think is best. But every event, every problem, every time we find ourselves in limbo, it eventually comes to some resolution. What that resolution is, though, isn’t up to me. But it IS up to me to accept the resolution so I can move forward with my life.

It would be easy to come back and say, “But sometimes I don’t ever get an answer. Sometimes things aren’t ever resolved. Sometimes I don’t get closure. Sometimes things just hang out there…”

I think all of us have situations like that in our lives. One of the biggest for me is (to make a long story short) the state of 90% of my material possessions that disappeared in 2004 when my “best friend” took off without returning it. There are quite a few things I’ve never had answers for: why exactly she left, why she never told me which storage place my stuff was in, what has happened to my stuff since (I’m thinking a “Storage Wars”-esque auction”), and how my “best friend” could brazenly betray me the way she did.

For years I struggled with these questions, until I could accept that this event wasn’t going to work out the way I wanted. But, if I let it, the situation had resolved itself with the conclusion that I would likely never know the answers to those questions. So it was up to me to let it go and move on. And when I did this I was able to let go of the anguish, learn from the situation, and change how I responded to life in the future.

And this, I believe, is how I have to deal with disappointment in my life. I bring up this topic because yesterday I had one of those moments that, once it resolved, wasn’t the way I had hoped. In fact, I had been REALLY hoping it would work out in my favor. But it didn’t. So, I gave myself time to be upset and disappointed for a bit and then I moved on. Am I still a bit annoyed that I have to change my plans, yep. I struggle with rigidity and needing to plan ahead for things. But I’ve accepted that there is nothing I can do to change the situation as it resolved yesterday and I’ve begun the process of constructing a new plan of attack.

People have been telling me the cliche at the top of this post… and apparently I am supposed to wait for a new door to open, but even that might not be the case. I might just have to be ok with the fact that I was disappointed and that I’m going to have to do something else (something that is not as exciting as what the original thing might have been). But that is ok and I can be ok with that.

It only holds me back if I dwell on what “might have been” or I get stuck in my disappointment. When something resolves itself in a way that is less that preferred by me I can take it as it is and I can do something else. It is never the end of things; it is only a minor roadblock that leads me in a new direction. Its ok. Everything works out.

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Lately I have also been feeling a lot of fear. I have big changes coming up in my life (I’m moving to another state, starting graduate school, planning a wedding) and in total honesty I am terrified. I don’t like not knowing what is going to happen and I have insane, irrational, thoughts that swirl around in my head.

But I practice letting go of my fear; I have to practice letting it go. When I let go of it and trust that things will be ok (no matter what happens) then I am no longer frozen by my fear and I can go back to living my life one day at a time. I can focus on what is in front of me. I do this in many ways: I pray. I repeat to myself that my worry is only adding to my stress (it does me no good to worry about something I can’t change). I talk with friends and family. I distract myself by doing other things. I make sure to sleep enough. I take time to do things for me. And when none of those work I accept that at this point I am feeling stressed and that is ok.

Acceptance is one of the great challenges of recovery. I spent so many years trying to manipulate the world and make life go the way I want and it only left me despairing in my own misery. Acceptance is letting go. In letting go I drop my arms to my sides, let out a deep breath, and give up the fight. I give up the fight when I refuse to engage with my addictions in my head; I give up when I talk with others and air out the craziness in my head. I let go when I take care of myself. And I let go when I sit in my discomfort and refuse to let it upset my world.

Now, I am not advocating giving up on life when things are crappy. We should always be working to improve our situation, but we can’t be fighting the world. Working and fighting are different. Working involves accepting that things aren’t going to work out the way we planned them (necessarily), but we keep trying to improve our life in relation to those around us. And sometimes our best left in relation to others means that we don’t get what we want or that we have to accept our own discomfort for the betterment of others.

In recovery I learn to let go. I learn to accept. I learn that just because I am uncomfortable doesn’t mean I have to make myself crazy trying to get comfortable. Sometimes we just have to be uncomfortable until things settle down around us.

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Just got back from a trip to California last night. My boyfriend and I spent a week with his aunt who lives in Santa Barbara. It was BEAUTIFUL – a definite improvement from the cold of Minnesota. I had a few moments of weakness out there, mostly with body image issues and less so with drinking, but I pulled through and it helped me realize something; now that I’m in recovery, despite those moments of insecurity – whether I’m wishing I was thinner or that I could have a cocktail with ‘normies’ – they don’t consume me anymore.

In other words, life isn’t happening to me anymore; I’m experiencing life. The best example of this is with my eating disorder, though we could do a similar example with my drinking. When I was stuck in the eating disorder life happened to me; I was always subject to the whims of the fates. I always felt like life was hellbent on giving me the short stick and there was nothing I could do about it except escape through the eating disorder. I’d numb myself  by starving, b/p-ing, over exercising so that I didn’t have to focus on the crappy things that were happening.

What I didn’t understand at the time, because my addictions kept me deluded, was that life has crappy things happen but I get to choose how I’m going to respond to them. I don’t have to let life happen to me, rather I can exist coincident with life and I’ll do much better. If, as they say in AA, I “live life on life’s terms” (Big Book of Alocholics Anonymous, pg 417) then I don’t have to escape it.

How does this relate to my experiences of insecurity in CA? Well, if I had taken this trip 5 years ago and been confronted with the vast numbers of rich skinny women in Santa Barbara I would have retreated into my head and probably refused to wear short sleeves, let alone a bathing suit. It would have been too much for me to bear the thought that I have a good 30 pounds on any of these women… life (the environment around me) would have been happening to me. But this time the knowledge that I weigh more than a lot of those women was only a mild irritant. It was definitely true that I wasn’t as skinny as most of them, but outside of feeling a bit insecure in my bathing suit I didn’t have to let life control my actions. I ALSO noticed that it wasn’t ALL of the women who weighed less than me (though the eating disorder didn’t want me to notice the ones who were my size or larger). Life didn’t happen to me this time, rather I existed within life and let life’s truths float around me while I did my best to live rightly anyway.

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