Happy New Year!
Last week I missed sending out a blog post…I was still caught up in the aftermath of the holiday chaos, celebrations and feasting in my own home, and then whisking off with my husband and 5 kids to Wisconsin for Christmas with my family.
I don’t know about you, but returning home from a trip of any kind, but especially home to the places and people I grew up with, has the tendency to pull me away from my recovery mindset and routines.
Walking in my front door feels like a mixture of relief and overwhelm as the reality of my daily responsibilities and holiday catch-up hit me square in the face. I feel like I have been digging out under a mountain of responsibilities and tasks that are beyond my human capacity to achieve.
In the midst of this vacation hangover, I am reminded of the New Year.
I used to be a big one for New Year’s Resolutions. Goals were my kind of thing. Give me a hoop and I will find a way to jump through it. Build me a checklist and I will find a way to check those boxes come hell or high water. This was the way I did life. And for the most part, it worked out well for me.
It took my complete free-fall in the aftermath of my husband’s betrayals to open my eyes to the fact that this life, this achievement-based way of living, really wasn’t working for me like I thought it was.
While the outer shell of my life may have seemed in-tact to the people around me, my inside was falling apart. Totally incapacitated with despair, I had no choice but to admit that despite all my intellect, talent, religion, and achievements, I did not have the tools to face this difficulty in my life. I waved the white flag.
When I look back to my beginnings with 12 Step, I wonder what my intention was.
Rescue! Was I hoping for somebody to please fix me?
I am broken and bare on the floor, someone please pick me up and put me back together again…
I remember so vividly the feeling that everything that had once been bright and shiny in me had been permanently snuffed out…it was gone…and I was this empty, sad shell of the person I had once been.
I felt myself holding the pieces of my broken life in my shaking hands and knowing that there was no possible way to put them back together. They would never fit again. I couldn’t accept my reality. I didn’t know how to stop resisting what was.
For months I would wake up and the first thought that would cross my mind was, “Oh no…it’s not just a dream…this really is my life. These things really did happen…No! No! No!…” And then the tears and sadness and despair would press down on me again. Another day spiraling downward in darkness.
I think there was a part of me that believed that 12 Step would give me a little tweak. Or somehow magically just be able to lift or erase the pain I was feeling. I didn’t know that what my healing would require would be a complete reconstruction–as someone in my group put it:
“My therapist fell off a ladder and shattered his ankle. He had to go under complete reconstructive surgery to rebuild his ankle from the ground up. He looked at me and said, That’s the kind of work you need to do.”
I believe that ultimately, this is exactly the kind of work we all have to do.
Recovery for me has been so much like this CS Lewis quote:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
So what does all of this have to do with the New Year?
I knew from my very first SAL meeting that the women here had something I didn’t have. I could feel it the moment they spoke. And as I heard their words and felt their energy, I became hungry for their wisdom. I didn’t know what they had but I was willing to do anything they told me to get it. I began to want it more than I wanted anything else in my life: more than financial comfort, more than being skinny, more even than my husband. All I wanted was that peace, that wholeness, that wisdom, that serenity, that humility that I felt in them. And a miracle happened. I learned how to want God more than anything else. I learned what it felt like to truly have God at my center.
When I was finally able to let go and truly turn my will over to the care of God, my life changed forever. I started off on a journey that I could never have predicted, and while there have been times that have felt scary, I continue to be amazed and absolutely awe-struck with joy and surprise as my Higher Power continues to show me more and more of who He is.
As I practice giving my Self to my Creator one day, one moment at a time, I am changing. I am different. I am new. I am whole.
At the end of yoga practice, we roll to our side, with our knees pulled in tight against our chest: the fetal position. This practice reminds us that each practice, each day, each moment, is an opportunity for a new birth, a fresh start. It is up to us to choose how we will go out from here: with more love, more compassion, more reliance on God. Anything is possible.
This New Year, may you feel the joy of knowing that it is never too late for a fresh start. That your new beginning is always one surrender away, whenever you choose to take it. And even if you are still grieving the loss of all you once were, may you feel the hope and surety that there is a palace waiting to arise inside of you. It is true that it will be quite different than the house you came with, but I can promise that it will be far more exquisite than you can presently imagine.
With Him, it is never too late to become New.
Happy New Year.
Happy New Day.
One Moment at a Time.
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