October 23

DISCIPLINE MONTH: DAY 23: “Endure every hardship as a discipline of grace.” ― Lailah Gifty Akita

We all have terrible moments of doubt, rage, fear, anxiety, desperation, loss of hope, heartbreak, pain and being lost. For every moment such as this, the subsequent gifts of grace we receive are, indeed, the work of a God of some kind.

I cannot understand and embrace peace unless I have lived through turbulence, violence and pain. I cannot embrace joy without having embraced and sat through times of great sorrow and grief. I cannot FEEL love without having FELT fear and loneliness.

Addicts don’t want to FEEL anything but intense happiness and the void of nothingness. We drink and drug to avoid these feelings of anger, pain, remorse, regret, guilt, shame…you know the ones. When we get into this recovery life, it is challenging to sit still with uncomfortable feelings…all of them. We must discipline ourselves to sit with our pain, to sit with our joy, to sit with our sadness and rage and the total unfairness that life can deliver to all  of us in those moments when we are not sure of which way to go next.

My experience has taught me that this discipline allows the feelings to move through me and pass rather quickly. I often must try to hold onto them, or I lose the thread of the story I am creating around them. (haha) I don’t need to create the story, nor do I need to hold onto the feelings. I feel them, and I let them go.

Something will happen to lessen the pain, to lessen and stabilize my joy, to lessen and soften my rage (thank God!), and to allow me to learn from my feelings and what the situation is that brings them to me in that moment. I MUST SIT STILL with them.

And I must learn to let go of the story around them. It is all something I made up anyway. There is always another side, sometimes 2 or 3, about which I know nothing. I must wait to see how the situation plays out. It always does. Most often 2 or 3 years down the road. Sometimes a week later. I don’t get to know, and I don’t get to dictate. The discipline comes from KNOWING I do not have all the information yet and that though I may want to know WHY, there is not going to be an answer until there is. I must let go of all of it and move into the next indicated thing, and the next and the next. Until such time as I am in the position where the other 2 or 3 things let me know the WHOLE story, not my story, the WHOLE story.

The other thing that I know is that I have stored SO many feelings and ideas about my life in the body that attempted to keep it all at bay with drugs and alcohol that there are times when one event brings up an extraordinary amount of emotion that I do not understand. It is just waiting inside me to be released. A good cry can release many years of tears that I held back because I did. And there are still pockets of rage in me that startle me and surprise me.

As I grow in this thing, I am less and less inclined to express feelings from 30 or 40 years ago in a situation that comes up today. I am no longer a victim of life. I am accepting life and allowing it to be confusing, or whatever I believe about it. I do not get to know what is going to happen next. That can be hell or it can be heaven; the choice is mine to make.

Published by: Kelly

I am a therapist and counselor with long-term recovery from addictions and personal trauma. My writing reflects these experiences and the road I have traveled in 12-Step recovery settings, along with the work I have done for over 30 years in the field. My love of dolphins includes the stories of them being healers in places all over the world. I long to offer every broken spirit and body the experience of a healing hug. May my words and stories inform, uplift and delight your spirit and soothe your weary heart.

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