Alison's Insights

Accepting Mid-Life Addiction Recovery One Slow Deep Breath At A Time

There Are Two Chairs. Pick One.

Do you remember when age advancement was highly anticipated? We stood with pride at half-year marks and counted down the days until our friends gathered to celebrate in our home. I recall everyone enjoyed party hats, balloons, and games of fun that, at our house, included those my mom thought better for our young minds.

One of her favorites was a version of the memory game. A tray was presented with items underneath a towel. Once removed, small household items were revealed. Participants had one minute to study what they saw. When time was up, the person with the most remembered was deemed our winner.

Boring as that game was, we tolerated the challenge because we knew a fan favorite, musical chairs, was next.

This was a contest of strategy. We gathered in a circle around opposite-faced chairs which numbered one less than the participants. When the music started, a parade around the seats began. With great anticipation, all eyes focused on which chair would secure a continued spot in the game. When the music stopped, anyone not seated and one chair were eliminated. That parade-choice-exclusion process continued until two seats remained. One promised the hoped-for prize, the other a promise for next time.

Years later, I faced a similar challenge when the two chairs in front of me were marked PROBLEM and SOLUTION. I had two choices. Choose the chair that signified a continued effort to validate, justify and rationalize my consumption of too much alcohol and not enough food, or take a leap of faith and sit in the one that offered help to disengage from all that.

I paraded around those chairs in search of a strategy to sit in both. No matter how I maneuvered my foot placement, I could not make that work without falling through the space between them.

I had to decide. I had to pick a chair.

two-chairs-option-2

Once made, relief fell over me like a warm blanket on a cold day. That four-legged seat marked SOLUTION offered my tired mind, body, and spirit the longed-for rest I never thought possible. From my single choice, things began to change for the better.

Yesterday, I shared that story with a woman who confided she was in relapse and could not stop her downward spiral. Although she talked in detail about what led to the return of unhealthy behaviors and how that made sense to her, the tear-soaked face before me begged for hope. Therefore, I felt compelled to offer a glimpse of what happened when I stood where she now stands.

As she reached for another tissue to dry her wet cheek, I touched her arm and said, “You know, there are two chairs in front of you. I suggest you take a slow deep breath and pick one.”

She smiled when we walked to our cars. My sense is, her choice was already made.

A Moment to Breathe

Do you find yourself circling a readiness for recovery or to overcome a difficult situation? Are you in silent battle of the pros and cons between what feels comfortable and what seems challenging? Take a moment for a slow deep breath. Consider your current walk in problem-living quicksand. Are you willing to deal with continued consequences that often result from endless justification, rationalization, and lies, or are you willing to see what living in the solution could feel like? These are the chairs are in front of you. Take another slow deep breath and pick one. The exhale felt once you make that choice will signify if your chair is the right one. 

I’m interested in your thoughts about readiness and chair choice. Feel free to leave a message here or include when sharing this post via your favorite social media site. 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “There Are Two Chairs. Pick One.

  1. Marlene on said:

    Thanks Alison…I pick recovery….slow but steady. Good to hear from you….my husband is in surgery today. Thinking good thoughts for him. I’ll pick that chair.

  2. Thank you, Marlene. I will hold you and your husband in my heart and in all my positive upward thoughts. Yes, the chair we choose will determine our sense of peace.

  3. Claudia Donohue on said:

    As usual you took an issue, simplified it and offered it up to anyone with an open mind and heart to embrace. Whether new to recovery or already on the path, it’s a choice of chairs that we make every day. Thank you, Alison.

  4. Leanne on said:

    Alison. This is exactly where I’m at. I ha have not made that choice. When I think I have and the trial of the moment comes, I crumble back to rationalizations. Where’s the ooomph to push through the tough brick wall? My decision has to be firmer. I love what you shared. Ty so much!!

  5. Very well put, Alison. Thank you!

  6. Arrrrgh! I know you are right. We get the chair we choose. I have no one to blame but me.

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