Step out of your circumstances for a while. Observe others who seem to know how to live. Perhaps observe people who are not living in anger or endless drama. There are people around us in recovery that have unlocked the door and found a way out.
People watching can be a beginning, but they can not be of much assistance to a struggling soul until a process of surrender occurs within. The AA principles, for example, lay out perfectly the process from self-reliance and unmanageability to surrender and freedom.
Swirling obsessive thoughts and knee jerk reactions may not have been of own making, but rather modeled to us by caretakers, parents, or an abuser. Although they have proven time and time again to be harmful and faulty, as long as we believe they are valid and appropriate we will stubbornly stay unchanged.
If stepping out of victimization or personal addictive behaviors a lack of faith and trust is our dilemma. We could not trust the abuser or while in active addiction could not trust ourselves or our behaviors. But we have a Creator who is continually trying to reach us and is able to change our thinking and behaviors. There is restoring power beyond our imagining. A new outlook awaits.
The key to this door, that opens to a path into the beautiful new unknown, is surrender. That key is found when we can sit quietly and dare to think outside of what we believe is our reality. The key begins to turn. There may be clutter in front of the door, or the door may slam shut again and again. Then one day it stays open. We awake to new information, new possibilities. Needed resources and strength present themselves.
When I became aware that there was a hold on my thinking, I was given the freedom to change. Without awareness, I was lost in an endless cycle of disillusionment, hurt, and discouragement. Awareness brings clarity and our natural desire to better ourselves. Be a chick and break out of your shell, knowing that with hatching there is a struggle. Whether an egg, a flower, butterfly, or newborn, all struggle. Without the struggle, they cannot be born, survive, or seek their full potential. Even after birth, there is a need to stretch and grow built into all living things. Whether it is physical strengthening, mental cleansing, learning something new, or spiritual freedom and growth. Applying knowledge, based on a new truth or a behavioral change, brings it a struggle. Counter to this, when lost, we feel the struggle and brace ourselves, attempting to block out the fearful unknown and resist discomfort. By accepting that there will be a struggle and it is in the natural course of life, the struggle then becomes tolerable. When we accept the struggle, change unfolds in us and through us.
There is no autonomy or self-governing; control is exerted over the other’s movements, money, sexual activity, or friends; through emotional, psychological manipulation, or physical abuse. Adult children of alcoholics easily fall into the same patterns as their parents: picking a partner or raising their children, in the same manner, they were, remaining trapped in the cycle.
Life itself will offer moments of clarity.A crossroad, a breaking point, or outside intervention. A realization that something could be different. That one may enter a recovery program, peer support at a church, or counseling center. To break free and recover, emotional detachment is vital, while new information is taken in. There is always an emotional separation from the other co-dependant, if there is physical or psychological abuse a physical separation is needed until both can seek help.These are forms of detachment. Detachment simply allows space to breath, rest, and reevaluate. For most it is frightening and progress may be delayed out of a fear that something is being lost.
I am weary. I have been writing and revising my manuscript for four years now. In writing a memoir, there is the apparent need to go back through the trauma experienced. I have found continued healing while going through this process of writing. The positives are that this going back also reinforces the lessons, techniques and prayer practices that have brought me out of darkness into a world of recovery and true freedom.
Is our inner voice original thought, or guided by someone or something else? If you found your way here, you have experienced abuse or trauma in some capacity. Your mind may be battling with you daily, obsessive thoughts try to guide you one way, blocking your desire to go another way. It can encompass self-destructive beliefs, self-destructive behaviors, addiction, fear, chronic nightmares. Your anxious thoughts trigger your, PTSD symptoms. An inner voice that continually judges and condemns, “You are flawed, less than, or of no value to anyone including yourself, unlovable, unforgivable, a phony.” Our inner voice usually consists of our own internal beliefs that have been given to us, the enemies voice of conviction, and the voice of our Creator who is forever calling us to peace and fulfillment.
I can see the beauty of being a rock in God’s creation. Not a sedentary rock, for when unearthed, I would be moved from place to place. At times, hidden and forgotten. Then a twist of fate would unearth me again. For a time, placed as the centerpiece in a garden. Jagged, rough edges in the beginning, but the friction of life and torrent rains refined and polished me. Now my destination is assured as I have become a paperweight sitting prominently on God’s desk. My polished shine radiates with reflective light attracting others to be soothed by my cool smoothness. This smoothness with signs of wear offers many opportunities, sometimes to bring others beauty, sometimes to help others offering foundational support, and at all times, to be still and take in the beauty that surrounds me in His garden.
Victim. We should only be allowed to use this word to describe a moment in time where something was done to us that was out of our control. It should be an adjective to describe our experience in a tragedy, not to define our character. That moment does not define us. It can mold us, but we have the choice to allow it to continue to victimize us and be subjected to the powerlessness of that situation or we have the ability to become a warrior.
After what we have experienced in secret the idea of being exposed is quite painful. Had we not already had our bodies exposed to lustful eyes and hands? Yes! However the illumination I speak of has an opposite and profound effect on returning to our pre-abuse identity. Leading us out of a fear filled lonely place to a place of joy filled resilience and healing.
Find your healing space. Create your haven. When organizing a home for clients, where there was hoarding or just messy chaos, I would first carve out a place for the client. To be a refuge from their inner trauma or their addiction to hoarding. Maybe they needed a place to escape the chaos from a partner or child that was troubled with alcoholism, codependency, or other unhealthy tendencies.
Father Richard Shares……Today I share a contemplative poem from CAC friend and writer Felicia Murrell. Felicia’s words combine a deep awareness of God’s presence while clearly naming the collective trauma of police brutality and lynchings. It is worth remembering, as Black liberation theologian James Cone (1938–2018) points out, that the lynchings of African Americans and the crucifixion of Jesus share much in common: “Both the cross and the lynching tree were symbols of terror, instruments of torture and execution, reserved primarily for slaves, criminals, and insurrectionists—the lowest of the low in society.”  There is something about poetry that gives us permission to sit with the paradoxes of our pain, perhaps especially when addressing traumatic suffering. I invite you to read Felicia’s challenging words slowly, allowing your heart to break open to God’s love amidst the suffering of the world.