Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

Archive for the tag “choices”

The Hallway of Change

Most of us know that change is constant because life is ever-evolving. Some people thirst for change and there are those, like me, who dig heels in deeper with a belief that what’s comfortable is just fine. Why switch from the well-hummed rhythm of daily life to learn something new?

Needed change rarely happens without some level doubt and resistance and silent stories that loop in our head about why change isn’t necessary.

I wrote and rewrote those everything-is-fine stories with hope the end would turn out better than what others predicted.

Sure, I drank too much, ate too little, controlled more than necessary, and stayed purposely silent in shame when I could have spoken my truth. That way of life didn’t make sense to anyone but sure did to me.

I knew what would happen when I engaged in things I shouldn’t and perhaps even more important to me, how to circumvent consequences. That well-choreographed dance of unhealthy behavior went on for years until the curtain went down and no one clapped. Self-destruction does have an encore.

For reasons I can only speculate and now quite grateful for, I grabbed that handle on the door marked change rather than the one which indicated my final resting place.

In truth, I stood at the door that promised change for a while. I thought a spec of courage would be enough. I fiddled with the doorknob only to drop my hand. I lingered there until one day I coupled courage with willingness and turned the latch all the way. I’d be a liar if I said there wasn’t part of me that hoped a lock would keep me from what I feared. However, once change comes calling in a way I can’t deny, no lock will keep me stuck.

What I didn’t know then but I certainly do know is, an immediate change wasn’t on the other side. Just because I passed through the door wasn’t a guarantee of something different. That much-needed step out from the fog of fear only led to the hallway of change, not into a complete change that I presumed would meet me there.

Although I could see a door in the distance, I couldn’t yet understand what the attached sign read. I considered a turn back or even investigation into a side door of escape. Yet, what echoed in my ear was that if I did, all the misery and shame and loneliness and fear I once felt would return in an instant.

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So, there I stood, listening to the whispers hope and suggestions sprinkled like raindrops from kind and patient people who surrounded me. At times I shut my eyes tight, crossed every finger, and prayed that one of those people would take those hallway steps for me. I learned that’s not how the process works.

Personal change is an inside job, not someone else’s outside fix.

I breathed in what others suggested and embraced any required work for the change I desired. In time, I reached that once distant door only to face even more hallways and farther doors.

Matter of fact, I’m in one of those hallways right now. Even with years of practical experience that proved perseverance, willingness, and asked for help are the means to get from one end of the to the other, I still do not like being in the hallway of change. Not at all.

I feel like a newcomer in recovery, searching for that easier, softer, way toward a hoped-for sense of comfort in new surroundings. I find myself inspecting crevices of the hallway for a quick solution for my unease. Funny how I act even though I learned long ago that what I want, isn’t always what I need.

So, I pause. I find a welcoming spot in that hallway. I breathe. I look around. I listen. I wait. I listen a little harder. Then, when I feel a bit more confident in my next right step, I’ll make my way closer to that distant door.

I may not get there right away and that’s okay. What’s important is that I pay close attention to what I learn along the way. Once embedded, those nuggets of wisdom will influence my approach when life presents me with the unexpected and I find myself in another hallway of change.

A Moment to Breathe

Are you standing at a door of change? Are you hesitating? Maybe you turned the handle and now stand between the door you closed and the one that offers something new. Before you do anything, breathe. Slow your thoughts. Breathe again. Remember, whatever you face, wherever you are, this is not what you’ll face or where you’ll be forever. Put your focus on that next right indicated and head down that hall. Breathe again. You’re on your way. 

I’m interested in how you answer the above questions and if this post influenced your perspective. Feel free to leave me a comment below or share the post with your thoughts via a preferred social media site.

 

This is Just Your Right Now, Not Your Forever

I’m so ashamed.

I hate being here.

I miss him.

She hates me.

That hurts.

I can’t let that go.

I’m so embarrassed.

Why me?

Why not me?

I failed.

I’m scared.

I feel so alone.

I want to go home.

I don’t know what to do.

Those sentences, and many like them, reflect a time when I found myself tangled up in an inability to control what I wished I could. Those moments of sharp-edged emotions seared clean through me. I believed there was no other choice than to grit my teeth and hang on tight.

Time stood still when I didn’t know whether what was happening would end soon, or if what I expected might arrive. Fear, embarrassment, rejection, and shame paralyzed me. I searched for anything that offered a quick-fix release of those feelings. While today I have healthy, reliable, proven options to recalibrate and course-correct negative thinking, that certainly wasn’t always so.

For decades, I relied on an untreated addiction to instant relievers. From a never-ended glass of wine to a sketchy relationship with food to manipulation and lies, the examples of their use are endless. I glossed over what hurt with what helped me believe I wasn’t.

Yet the day came when the magic of that immediate gratification stopped. The consequences of them became unavoidable. I had no choice but to feel the pain and shame and unbearable truth of what I hoped I could avoid.

Then, someone said something that shifted my perspective. The following words helped, and still helps, to exhale when I don’t even realize I’m holding my breath.

“Alison, this is just your right now, not your forever.”  

That sage suggestion brings about an immediate sense of calm. I’m reminded that what I feel in any given moment is not how I’ll feel next year, next month or, maybe even within a few minutes. Every blink of the eye and beat of the heart offer opportunities for reconsideration or alternative perspective. We never know when an overheard word, a small gesture, or note of music might bring about an ah-hah moment that could help push away an unwanted feeling and bring about change.

You can get through this

However, even after all these years I’ve heard and reminded people about right now versus forever, I sometimes forget their value. The list of examples whereby this wisdom saved my sanity is long and ever-growing. Even as I type this, situations are simmering that require I repeat those words in a mantra-like fashion.

Seems when emotions run high, what makes sense runs low. This is why I surround myself with people who help me find that middle ground. They remind of the importance that I feel every feeling I once ran from.

I don’t run. I stand strong because I now know that whatever hurts, scares, or belittles me, they are only my right now, not my forever.

A Moment to Breathe

What causes your fear of the truth? Are you reaching for things that offer a quick fix? Will a short-term choice lead to a long-term consequence? Before you do anything, take a slow deep breath. Take another. Is there another option? Can you acknowledge that what you feel right now won’t last forever? If you doubt that’s possible, try this tactical example. Find a pen and piece of paper. Jot down what you’re feeling and the circumstances that led you there. Tuck that piece of paper away and make a note to re-read what you wrote a few days from now. My sense is, the truth will be revealed that how you once felt about that situation changed. Practical experience is our best teacher.  

 I’d love your thoughts on this topic. Please leave a message below or feel free to share this post with your practical experience via a favorite social media site.

Keep Coming Back

Over the years I heard, then said, three of the most powerful words anyone could offer to someone who struggles with overcoming some unhealthy behavior. The words are, keep coming back.

Woven together, those fifteen letters comforted—and continue to comfort—me, and many others, who walk away from a conversation that offers hope for change no matter how dire the situation.

When I first took in those words, I teetered between what made sense and what could be. I thought the invitation to another meeting of like-minded people was just a polite gesture. While I had my doubts about a return visit to a room filled with people I didn’t know who talked about things I didn’t understand, I went back anyway. I was desperate for a life other than the one I existed in. The lies, rationalizations, and manipulations were unbearable. I felt horrid from the inside out. The people in those rooms suggested I didn’t have to feel that way anymore as long as I keep coming back.

So, I did. I still do. However today, that powerful mantra means much more than the benefits of a return trip to a room of recovery wisdom.

When life tosses an emotional grenade my way, I’m thrown off-balance. Thoughts scatter. Next right steps aren’t clear. I doubt my options. Yet somehow, between the shrapnel, that mantra clicks in and I return to my proven recipe that shifts me from chaos to calm. Much like beloved, handed-down family recipes that many rely on for that perfect meal, this one, offered by the family that welcomed me when I felt lost and alone, is equally stained and torn, nurtured and shared and now, much-needed.

During the last several months I had striking examples of what can happen when friends lose sight of the recipe that once worked for them. An alert of another substance-related death, handcuffs then jail, excuses for unhealthy behavior use, and so on. The outcome is raw. The denial is unfathomable. The reality is startling and for some, beyond recognition.

Actually, I felt a bit tossed around too. I lost sight of what keeps me sorted in thought and focused in action. Yet, there, in the midst of all that, I kept hearing whispers from friends and interestingly, mere strangers who had no idea what they offered through their briefly shared words.

Time for A Comeback

So, I’m dusting off that recipe card. I’m coming back and perhaps in time, others will find their way home too.

A Moment to Breathe

What happens when you start to cut corners, eliminate ingredients, or lessen the time you need to fully experience what you’d rather not? Take a slow deep breath. Now, consider what’s missing from that recipe that worked to make sense of things. What changes are you willing to incorporate into your day that will help you rise up and nourish hope for what’s possible. Use the space below to account for those plans and then, please share this post to your preferred social media sites so others might do the same.  

 

I Don’t Have Time

Why, during the last few weeks of every year, do I feel as though I can’t catch up with myself? I rush from place to place and project to project hoping to cross one more item off the holiday to-do list. I forget more than remember and I talk more than listen.

I convince myself I don’t have time for a spontaneous cup of coffee with a friend, an extra few minutes of (much-needed) sleep, or another chapter of that spellbinding book.

The reality is, I don’t have time because time has me.

Without intentionally doing so, I give the tick-tock of time that kind of power over me. Why do I let this happen? When did this start? Do other people struggle to satisfy time expectations like I do?

I shudder to think how familiar these questions are. I asked them years ago because I thought I had a drinking problem and issues with food and body image when, in fact, alcohol, scales, and mirrors had me. I manipulated and rationalized everything to avoid treatment or well-considered amends or self-care. I thought I didn’t have time for such things until my time almost ran out.

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With barely a moment to spare, I found the kind of help I desperately needed. During those early days, I begged for time to create the kind of life I have today.

In that process, I found out why time is a precious commodity and must be respected as such.

The idea that I don’t have time is as dangerous for me as a drink of alcohol or fork unfilled. I cannot allow myself to believe that time is an enemy with the power to determine what I’m capable of or what my priorities are.

If that’s where I am today, something needs to change and that something is my perspective.

Thank goodness I have a proven, practical experience solution for what keeps me from a healthy life. I must become willing to let go of the must-do’s and should’s and expectations so I can be present for people, situations, and things that truly matter.

If I slow down, step back, and breathe deep, I’ll find plenty of time to:

  • Listen
  • Offer a hug
  • Hold a door
  • Reach for the hand needing reassurance
  • Make that phone call, write that letter, or knock on that door
  • Spend a few extra minutes with a newcomer to recovery
  • Tell people who matter that they do
  • Walk slower
  • Ask for help
  • Breathe deeper
  • Get quiet
  • Look up

Perhaps the problem isn’t that I don’t have time, but that I forget how much time means to me.

A Moment to Breathe

How often do you hear yourself say that you don’t have time? Whether said out loud or in the silence of your mind, the story you tell yourself about how much time you have often proves harrowing. Take a deep breath and consider how you navigate your time. Do you feel spontaneously free to accept an unexpected opportunity, or over-scheduled and exhausted? If the latter seems more realistic for you, perhaps a shift in perspective is necessary. Remember, your time is yours and thus, only you will ever have the power to choose how that time is allocated. Now, take another slow deep breath and rewrite today’s plan that will suit you and your peace of mind.

The Power of Inspiruption

When was the last time you heard or read something that shot a powerful bolt of inspiration through you? Maybe there was a quick turn of your head to listen closer, or a rapid eye-race back a few paragraphs to assure what you read still rests on the page. For me, the disruption to my train of thought is so sudden, the only words to bounce the walls of my mind are, “Wait. What was that?”

My arms tingle, my mouth goes a bit dry, and I scramble to grab a pen and capture what I mentally took in. In that instant, I feel a heart-to-heart connection to the words, the person sharing them, and the intention for which they are offered. Then, after silent recalibration, everything I thought about a certain subject shifts.

I call this experience an inspiruption. I am inspired to such a degree that my whole sense of what previously made sense is now disrupted.

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No doubt I experienced these kinds of sharp-turn realizations earlier in life. Teachers, authors, friends, bosses, even conversations overheard in strange places, pinged me to reconsider things.

Yet never with such intensity than the inspiruptions that led me to gather up the courage to put down my (hopefully) last glass of wine and pick up my first healthy and full fork.

Once in the arms of recovery, I heard the words that to this day can send a shiver through me. Someone looked me straight in the eye and said, “Yeah, me too.”

That small sentence is, perhaps, the single most important recovery blanket of hope and comfort for anyone in recovery. When the sentiment is wrapped around someone filled with fear and doubt and shame, what happens next is an inspiruption of profound measure. The body language cannot be mistaken. Facial muscles relax, shoulders drop, and fists unclinch. I’ve seen this happen right before my eyes and, for me, is nothing short of a miracle in motion.

Many moments of inspiruption have occurred since the day that reaction was mine. These days I surround myself with people and pages that wake me up, pull my breath, or push a tear beyond the walls of my pride; all indicators that more light must shine on a subject subconsciously left dim.

If I chose to disregard these moments of inspiruption, the opportunity for change might be lost. I’ve come way too far and gone through way too much to start denying  what is undeniable.

This is why I strive to keep my ears and eyes on guard in preparation for the next moment of inspiruption. Practical experience proves that when they arrive, what I do next is sure to powerfully change me for the better.

A Moment to Breathe

What came to mind when you considered my initial question? Did something happen as a result of that moment of inspiration? Were you overcome with excitement or startled by fear? If the latter, my suggestion is that when—not if—this happens again, take a deep breath and allow yourself to peak around the corner. What awaits might be a solution for something you never thought possible. Feel free to share your thoughts or experiences as a result of inspiruption here or as you share this post via your favorite social media site.

 

 

Feeling Broken? Find the Glue of Me Too

While driving alone, do you find yourself mindlessly scanning radio stations hoping to find something, anything that grabs your attention?

I sure do.

I’ll tap that seek button until a few notes of a song or words of a news story grab enough of my attention to satisfy that sound void in my car.

A few days ago I followed that routine on my way home from a support group meeting. My final radio stop was NPR perhaps because the lead-in for the next story warned of graphic content. When I hear a teaser like that, my curiosity kicks in.

Little did I know that what I was about to listen to would pull me from my usual post-meeting thoughts straight into the life of a woman who shared what she described was her turning point story.

As filmmaker and visual storyteller, Barbara Weiner, unfolded details of what happened to her thirty-one years ago, I didn’t feel connected because of them, I felt connected because what she went through to accept them.

The cadence of her voice was startling familiar. She spoke of perfectionism, the fear of exposing parts of her truth that would shine a light where she felt bruised and ashamed. She spoke of a desperate desire to appear put-together so others would see her life in order when inside she felt scattered, disordered, and alone.

As her story reached the point where a turnaround was looming, she spoke of how she found someone who, after hours of conversation, made a promise that she would not be abandoned no matter what was in that emotional box she neatly packed away to avoid falling apart.

That confirmation safety-net allowed her to step out from behind the curtain of shame she believed protected her from feeling what she was terrified to acknowledge. As those words tumbled from her mouth faster than she’s imagined they could, she felt relief from the release.

And that was how she began to heal.

In time she took her whole, unedited, for-mature-audiences-only story to others who needed to share their own. She paid attention with intention to what they said regardless of circumstances because that wasn’t the point. What mattered was the freedom shared once the truth was told.

Eventually she found her broken pieces held in place by those connecting stories and now, when she stands back from her own, she sees the beautiful mosaic of her beautiful life.

Broken pieces #1

I’m grateful I get that. I’m grateful I get her. I’m grateful I get the process.

On a daily basis I have the privilege to listen as others empty pockets where they’ve kept their secrets and broken pieces. Through that interaction, I give them, and myself, permission to heal.

Their stories, pasted with mine, lock together what felt broken. We’re bonded by the strong and powerful glue of “me too.”

A Moment to Breathe

Are pieces of you that feel broken? Are you wondering like Humpty Dumpty once did, that if long-held protective parts of you were to fall, could even the greatest of friends and family put you together again? Take a slow deep breath and consider if maybe they aren’t meant to. Maybe the ones who are meant to help are those who will you in the eye to confirm they’ve stood where you stand. Find them. They are out there. All that’s required is to start talking. Those who have what you need will listen, nod, and offer you two words that is the glue to fix your broken pieces. They’ll simply say, “me too.”  

I Just Want to Feel Normal

How many times have you been asked about your goals in life? Seems from high school on into adulthood, that question nudges a way into countless conversations with friends, family, and prayed-for employers.

For decades I would field such an inquiry with a memorized, finely worded, sure-to-please response that pointed attention to ideal social status, financial stability, and my next career move.

All that changed when I found myself in the vulnerable stage of early recovery. Instead of saying what I thought others wanted to hear, I exhaled with the admission I needed to hear myself say. My forever goal was to just feel normal.

I fantasized about this because I doubted normal people spent the first sixty seconds of early morning consciousness cobbling together flashes of fact from the night before. They probably didn’t have to ask themselves what they did or said, what lies needed maintaining, where the stashed unopened wine bottles were hidden, if they ate dinner or anything at all, and perhaps most crucial, if anyone saw them doing something they should not have done.

Back then I tried to play the role of a normal adult while hiding the fact I spent my days sneaking more than a few drinks and pushing through an occasional meal. I thought if I portrayed that high-achieving business woman who breezed though meetings, settled irate client calls, and finalized budget-binding projects on time without breaking a sweat or losing her cool, I’d be thought of as normal.

For years I wished for a different kind of normal. I just couldn’t figure out how to accomplish that without disclosing my secret supply of unhealthy behaviors. I convinced myself that if that were to happen, society would drop me from any definition of normal as I dropped my bags in front of the reception desk at a treatment center.

When I eventually experienced the latter, the stars seemed to rearrange themselves when I heard someone suggest I might consider a new normal.

New Normal

Instead of quenching my thirst for what made sense with booze, scales, and lies, I could satisfy my craving for sanity by aligning myself with people who offered the kind of recovery-focused practical experience I could relate to.

As the last traces of alcohol left my body and proper nutrition settled in, clarity of mind did too. I eventually understood that what I had labeled as normal was nothing more than a story I told myself based on unrealistic expectations.

Today, normal is what happens when I do the next right thing, stay consistent with what keeps me holistically healthy, and remain teachable.

I’m grateful my life doesn’t mirror the definition of normal I once hoped for. The changes I’ve made and peace of mind that brings is convincing evidence that what’s normal is nothing more than how I feel. And that, in fact, is what I’ve always wanted.

A Moment to Breathe

What’s your definition of normal? Has that description wavered over the years? If not, take a few slow deep breaths and consider if the time has come to establish a new one. Remember, what seemed like the natural course of things years ago may not align with how you are naturally meant to live.

I’m curious about your thoughts on this topic. Please leave a comment below or via your favorite social media spot.  

Please, Make it All Better

There are some expressions that grab your heart and won’t let go. These are the messages of desperation. Whether the words are said directly or seen in someone’s eyes, the reaction is immediate. Drop everything and help.

Try not to console a tearful little one whose just-skinned knee or bad dream seems never-ending. Try not to open your heart to tissue-shredding stranger, sitting alone in a hospital waiting room. Try not to pick up the pushed-to-the-floor books owned by that kid who is bullied in school.

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I don’t know about you, but in those tender moments, when eyes are raised to mine that say without words, “please, make it all better,” I just want to crawl into their moment of panic and do just that.

This is the way I felt recently as I sat with a woman who had the remarkable courage to walk through the door of her first recovery meeting.

My connection with her was assured well before she offered a wobbly, brave-fronted description of the circumstances that led to our conversation. I didn’t need convincing that she and I are cut from the same cloth. That look of desperation I not only saw, but felt.

When the situation called for me to share a bit about what first brought me to a room like the one we sat in. Her tears fell in rhythm with my words. Before long, the head-nodding signaled to me her sense of connection was now mutual. When I finished, she raised her head and, through eyes I saw once in my own mirror, silently said, “Please, make it all better.”

As a writer I challenge myself to avoid using the word “it.” Long ago, someone who’s writing career I deeply admire suggested that my reader deserves more from me. She explained that, when tempted by the word “it,” to remember I can’t make the assumption they’ll know what I mean.

However, in this case, I don’t think I need to elaborate for you. I doubt there is any misunderstanding in the context of this situation. Everyone has, at some time in their life, reached a point where no solution seems viable. When someone hits what they believe is their bottom from overuse of some unhealthy substance or behavior, the “it” that brought them to that point doesn’t need further detail.

So, I locked eyes with her and said; “No one has the answer to make your situation better. However, if you are willing, there are a few suggestions that, if you do them one day at a time, you might make things better for yourself.” After a bit more conversation, we shared hug of support. I watched her walk away with, I hope, a desire to return.

I’ll always stop to wipe a small one’s tears, hold space for a friend who received terrible news, and welcome a newcomer with a smile and an open mind because maybe, just maybe, in those non-verbal moments of connection I can help to make it all better.

A Moment to Breathe

Are you silently pleading for someone or something to make things all better? Are you hoping a rescue team is waiting around the corner to hear your plea for help? Perhaps now is the time to take a slow, deep breath and consider if what’s needed is to take an action step. Put meaning to your “it” and share those worries with a trusted friend. Even if they can’t make the “it” all better, they might help you feel less alone while figuring things out together.

Grateful for What I Wanted to Forget

You know those storage boxes neatly stacked in your closet, against the walls of your basement, or in your garage? If you’re anything like me, you usually pass them without notice. Even if they sometimes grab our attention and the idea of going through them seems wise, our minds search for something else, scratch that, anything else as a better option.

Yet the other day, for reasons I know now but didn’t then, I gave those boxes a second glance. Hours later I found myself surrounded by the contents of ones marked Treatment & Recovery, or painful reminders of the woman I once was. Page after page documented the truth that I didn’t have a firm grasp of how to navigate life. Back then I desperately wanted something different I just didn’t know how to find my way. I tried everything I could think of to change.

As I rummaged through preciously kept letters, medical reports, and personal notes that verify the reality of what was, I wondered why I held on to such things. Perhaps I packed them away to conceal my victim story. Maybe I kept them from eyesight to symbolically erase the need to acknowledge what I’d done to distance myself from those who love me.

However based on the need to tilt my head so tears that blurred my reading could fall, I hope subconsciously I thought one day these precious reminders would lead me to feel an amazing sense of gratitude. If that was the case, mission accomplished.

Of course some details clearly written in black are sharply remembered and some seem gently reassuring. Yet they all prove one thing, what I went through then was necessary to become what I need now.

My marriage, then dangling by a thread, is now strong and grounded in partnership.

My finances, then in disarray between what insurance didn’t cover and the work I didn’t have, are now comfortable and provide what I need.

My relationships with others, then distant or non-existent, are now strong and mutually beneficial.

As I sat atop a self-created paper carpet with tear-stained tissues clutched in my hand, I reflected on other marvelous things that resulted because I chose recovery instead of death even if still alive. From the first day I asked for help my progress back to health was slow and steady. Inch by inch, day by day, often breath by breath I progressed based on suggested steps that worked for others. The formation of these boxes served as indication of change from a life of chaos and shame to one that makes sense.

If the top-of-the-hour rhythmic bell from my old-fashioned clock hadn’t chimed, I’d still be there now. However time marches on and so do I.

I placed the top back on the last box and thought that while the mental trip through my past was not intentional, the diversion was purposeful. Those words, written when I had no idea what would happen next, now ignite my compassion for the woman who sits alone wondering how to shift away from the mess of her life.

Those papers mark my entry to transformation and now they serve as reference guides. When women quietly share the same things I once felt, I easily connect with their confusion, denial, fear, anger, sadness, shame, guilt, remorse, deflection, deflation and barely recognizable traces of hope.

I tell them why I clung to the last and worked on the rest.

I’ve learned that recovery is possible and quite probable for anyone willing to examine their past because doing so unveils lessons for their future.

If they do, maybe one day they’ll unpack boxes and feel grateful for what they now would rather forget.

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A Moment to Breathe…

What’s inside the boxes you walk past? Are you avoiding the contents because of what they contain?  Do you fear the memories will prove painful or more than you believe you can bear? Take a moment to breathe and reconsider if what’s inside might ignite encouragement for how far you’ve come, what you’ve accomplished, or what you’ve overcome. The possibility that hope resides in those boxes collecting dust seems thrilling. Who knows, maybe that’s just the hope you might share with someone today.    

11.24.15 Blog Option #1

Are You An Emotional Fearcaster?

When something is about to happen that you’ve never experienced before, are you instinctively stress-free and calm?

If so I salute you because in most cases, I’m not.

What’s interesting is that I don’t fear the situation, I fear the assumed associated emotions. I lament about my ability to handle possible feelings of failure, rejection, inadequacy, confusion, remorse, or that I’ll somehow feel flawed, helpless, inferior, lonely, or flustered. Sometimes the list can seem endless. This is what I refer to as emotional fearcasting.

Just like the weather forecast is a prediction based on current conditions and not a guarantee of what will occur, I consider emotional fearcasting in the same manner. I forecast my future emotional state based on my current emotional condition and if what’s next feels uncertain, I’m mostly likely in some state of fear.

fearcasting image 1

Instead of trusting a proven past of getting through tough times, I make sweeping assumptions and react rather than respond. I start to panic based on what I imagine rather than breathing in what I know.

Years ago my sought-after solution to calm my fear was a glass of wine combined with numeric verification from piece of metal that I was in control. That is not my solution today. Now I create a plan of action for myself not a plan of attack against myself.

Over time I’ve learned each day offers me an opportunity to learn new things about the world, life, and even myself. If I’m capable of that, then there’s every reason to believe how I feel today could change by tomorrow.

This is why I cannot possibly have a lock on how I’ll feel emotionally down the road. My perspective will have shifted even if only in a very slight way.

For example, when I started this blog. I feared no one would read one word I wrote. I was certain the comments offered would shame me for my lack of literary perfection, word choice, or grammatical expertise. I thought my experience with recovery wasn’t relevant for more than a handful of people. I anticipated failure rather than acceptance and held myself hostage in self-doubt.

None of that came true.

Then I think about the fearcasting I did before college, my first corporate job, marriage, and recovery. I pre-felt all kinds of emotion and feared my inability to manage them once they showed up. However when I finally met with each experience, what I felt was nowhere near the anticipated drama.

I’m most kind to myself when I stay open to the flow of things rather than resist them. If I trust my proven past to help predict my emotional future, fearcasting isn’t for me.

I hope to remain open by taking deep breaths while depending on a forecast for weather not fear-based emotions.

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A Moment to Breathe …

Are you experiencing an emotional fearcaster? What story are you telling yourself about what’s around the corner, down the road, or sometime next year? Are you relying on past emotional experiences to mentally describe how your future ones will turn out? Take a moment to breathe and contribute your thoughts with a comment below or when sharing this post via your favorite social media site. 

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