Early on during the process of recovery I was getting so much encouragement from completing tasks. Whether it was finishing a collage or painting a mask, I was pounding out projects at a very rapid rate. I thought, “Wow, this recovery thing isn’t so hard.” What I failed to realize was the enormous difference between completing a task and truly internalizing the process of the task. In this way, I actually spent time completing nothing.
Several weeks later I began to realize that getting well was going to include actually processing thoughts and emotions. On top of that, getting well meant making changes. I had an idea when I made the decision that my life had become unmanageable that changes would be involved, but I expected to seek professional help where I would then be instructed on exactly how to make changes and what changes to make. All I would need to do is complete the tasks that were recommended and I would be “recovered.”
I have since realized that the process of change couldn’t be farther from my initial idea of someone telling me how and what to change. Change is so individual that no one could possibly tell me what or how to change. I’ve learned that the most supportive people in my life are the ones who offer me encouragement and positive words but who don’t actually give advice on change. They are people who support me in looking at myself very candidly and in-depth and are available when I need someone to root for me. They are people who watch me change “from the stands cheering” rather than trying to “play out my process for me.”
I’ve also discovered the importance of being my own support person. Change for the sake of change is rarely maintained. I have discovered that the most meaningful changes I make are ones that I allow myself to observe. Rather than plugging through the process of life making adjustments as I go, I take time to release the gas pedal and glance back at the progress I’ve made; the changes I have made that keep propelling me forward on the path of recovery and emotional sobriety. It’s not until I looked back at my collage or my paintings or my writings and reviewed and processed them that they finally took on meaning and left me with a sense of pride and accomplishment. When I take time to review from where I’ve come and the progress I’ve made, I see a woman who is meeting life head on; who no longer fears life or change or herself. For the first time in my life I feel good enough. I feel worthwhile. I feel happy.