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Stepping into the Light
Why, hello there.
What’s your day been like so far? I’m coming down from a minor but frustrating relapse from a few days ago, so I’m still in a bit of a daze. The one thing I haven’t done is completely give up, which I’m proud of myself for. In the past, I would have been mired in despair for days or weeks. Because living with this is so frustrating, as I’m sure you know. We just want to be clean and sober, but when the cravings come, there’s not a lot that we can do. From what I’ve seen, avoiding a relapse is more a method of prevention. And that’s what makes it so hard. When we feel “better” we forget to do the things that keep us from backsliding. We believe we don’t need to do them anymore, because we think we have a handle on it. Then, it takes a massive effort to turn ourselves around once we feel ourselves start to go down the path of acting out. The success rate of keeping that raft from going down the waterfall goes up the sooner we start our mitigation plan. God willing we won’t need to use the contingency plan, but I think with preventative measures already in place, it makes it so much easier. And, if we do fall, preventative measures help us to get back up faster and not continue down the spiral forever.
But it’s so easy to be lulled into a false sense of security! All we want is to be like everyone else, who seem to cope so well without all these stupid boundaries and rules and vigilance. That’s why we ignore early warning signs, the small hints that we might be tapping into the reserves we need to fight our addiction. Since these thoughts, feelings, and desires are comparatively tiny, we brush them aside, relying on willpower to simply ignore them, rather than getting to the bottom of what’s interfering with our sober living. There’s so many other things that need our attention more than checking in with ourselves – that report needs to be finished, the kids need help with their homework, or we just forget about the little crack completely.
Unfortunately, as much as we may wish it, forgetting about cracks doesn’t make them go away. What could have been fixed with a spot of glue will later need tape or even a complete reconstruction later down the line.
It’s not because we are weak. It’s because we’ve taken our fair share of emotional beatings, from one source or another, and we’ve held up under incredible pressures for an incredibly long time. We did what we could just to survive, and we are just trying to survive the aftermath. The ghosts and monsters under the bed that linger even when the situation is gone. Why did we function so well in the worst situations of our lives? Why, now that we have been liberated, does everything come crashing down, and we are left a pile of broken, dysregulated emotional wreckage?
Now, our emotional loan sharks are coming to call, and they are throwing everything they have at us to make us pay up. We don’t want to be this way, and we don’t give in because we want to. We would do better if we could, but in that moment, we just can’t. So how do we learn, and get stronger, so that in the next moment, we are able to do better?
My love, be kind to yourself. You may not be in a position to hear this right now, but maybe later you’ll remember these words, take a deep breath, and feel it, just for a minute or two. Maybe they see you as the scum of the earth. Maybe they see you as an angel or a goddess, and you’re terrified that they might find out the truth. But the truth is this: you were beaten and battered against circumstances that you didn’t ask to be put into. Being broken isn’t a sign of weakness, because of they had gone through what you had gone through, they might be doing the same things that you’re doing to cope. And even if you and your siblings or war buddies did go through the same thing, and they are handling it vastly different than you? Well, guess what, they still didn’t go through the exact same thing, and they don’t have your unique design.
That armoured, prickly shell that you keep around yourself to make sure no one gets close enough to hurt you again is doing wonders for your sense of safety. There’s nothing more precious than feeling safe, and you should do what you can to protect yourself. Don’t let anyone near your heart unless you know that you can trust them. It might take years to find those people. But I’m willing to bet that there is at least one nearby who wants to hold space for you to let down your armour for just a few moments. Because it’s heavy. It’s lonely, being so safe all the time, and sometimes our armour pierces the hearts of those around us who are trying to care. Just like our addictions, there’s a time and a place, and we can all start walking toward a better place, with better people who may also be broken and make mistakes, but still treasure our hearts the way we deserve.
I know it’s hard. It’s hard to even believe that you can have a future of light and love and dreams coming true. Thinking about it is painful, and it seems impossible. I know. I don’t know what your future holds, but I do know that you and I have today. Right now. For whatever reason, we are alive today, and if you’re in a place to look around, you might find something small, a little miracle that makes this existence a little more bearable. In an hour or so, or maybe tomorrow, see if you can find one more thing.
And if you fall, my love, if you fall? It might feel like par for the course, or it might devastate you. Either way, remember, tomorrow is another day. Go to sleep, and wake up, and take it one day at a time. You don’t need to change the world right now, but your existence is putting ripples into the universe that are affecting the course of history, for better or for worse. You are necessary. You are needed and wanted and created by a God who is looking at you in this moment and weeps with you, for all that you’ve lose, for all that your sin and the sin of those who hurt you has cost you. He’s so in love with you, and even though it may not seem like it most days, he’s on your side, and he’s got something to show you.
I’m not promising that we’ll never relapse again. But the more we walk in the light and let go of what keeps us isolated, the less we’ll need those coping strategies that cost us so much.
Thanks for Stopping by!
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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.”
~ Romans 15:13