The future used to terrify me. It was The Great Unknown. I could never plan for every possible situation – not that I didn’t try to – and the thought of being unprepared made me just want to hide under the covers instead of facing life. Facing the future meant the possibility that I’d have to change. Or something would have to change. And change was out of the question.
I lived in the past. It was known and safe, in my mind anyway. I had gone through years of abuse and trauma, but it was familiar. I knew what to expect, and I was okay with that. I clung tightly to my resentments, and as long as nothing changed, I could continue to be the victim. I could continue to blame everyone else for the way my life was in the moment. I could continue to live in denial and stay in my addictive patterns.
I never had much use for the present. I wasn’t really even sure what the phrase “the present moment” meant. I was always living in the past or fretting about the future so much so that the present moment never really existed for me. Besides, the present required change and acceptance, two things I was not willing to walk through yet.
Letting go of the past is still difficult for me. I’m working on my personal inventory right now, and I’m seeing the destruction and wreckage I’ve caused because I was so deeply rooted in what happened and who had wronged me. Some of my resentments I’m not ready to let go yet, and my sponsor reassured me that that’s okay. (After all, if we recovered all at once, there would be no reason to continue working on ourselves.) I have been able to accept some of what happened, and when I think of how the past brought me to this present moment, I’m grateful for having gone through it. I live a fulfilling life today, and I wouldn’t give it up in exchange for an easier, softer ride.
I’m doing DBT. That’s dialectical behavior therapy, and the skills are great for recovering addicts of all types. One of the skills is to live in the present moment. It means being aware of what is going on right here, right now, not what just happened or what may possibly happen. I have to use this skill on an almost daily basis. When I remember who I am, where I am, and what I’m doing, it grounds me and I feel capable of moving forward.
I actually look forward to the future today. It holds so many exciting possibilities that didn’t exist for me a year ago. Even though I am still hesitant to change, ultimately, I know my recovery would halt if I didn’t. Life would cease to be fun if nothing changed.
If you’re struggling to let go of the past, sometimes the best thing to do is write about it and talk about it to a trusted person, like a sponsor or someone in your support group. Getting it out of your mind takes the power out of the emotion, and while you may not be in the position to forgive, you’re taking the necessary steps to not let the past control your thoughts. You alone determine what occupies your mind, so why not choose to think about positive things instead? Letting go of the fear of the future is hard, and I still catch myself obsessing about it. I mentally answer a series of questions – a reality check of sorts – that helps ground me in the present. (I’ll ask myself my name, the date, where I am, what I am doing, who is with me, and things like that.) It helps me to remember that the future hasn’t happened yet, and if I am firmly grounded in the present, I am better prepared to handle whatever life throws at me. Any change is hard, but a mental shift is quite possibly the most difficult thing you’ll learn to do. Be kind to yourself and remember that recovery is a process that takes time.
19 Notes/ Hide
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