walk down a different street
Yesterday, at (another) great therapy session, my therapist reached in her brown, accordian file and pulled out a sheet of paper. After she handed it to me, I skimmed it quickly and instantly realized it was a great topic to discuss on my blog. The title stretched across the top of the page read: "Stages of Recovery." This certainly applies to me right now, but no matter who you are or where you are in your life, you've probably had to recover from something. Not all recovery is about addiction. Sometimes you have to recover from a breakup or a divorce. Sometimes you might have to recover from a bad habit or an unhealthy behavior. I'm pretty sure everyone can relate to, and gain hope from, the "Stages of Recovery." Check them out:
Stages of Recovery
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless. It isn't my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don't see it. I fall in again. I can't believe I am in this same place. But it isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I fall in...it's a habit...but my eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
I walk down a different street.
Though I didn't realize it right away, my therapist helped me see that these stages are really about hope, about the idea that we can make mistakes, even continue to make the same mistakes, and there is still hope for us to someday walk down a different street. She made me sit there and feel what it was like to have that sense of hope. I was talking to her about my plans for my novel and the excitement in my voice was obvious; I had come a long way from where I was when I'd first come to see her and it was clear to me that I would not be on the same path if I weren't on my own road to recovery. "What is that feeling?" she asked. It took me a bit of fumbling before I realized, "It's hope." She referenced the piece of paper and I looked down to where it was resting beside me on the couch. And I felt it, just reading over it briefly, that hope. I felt like I really could keep walking around that hole and that someday (someday soon even!) I could walk down a completely different street.
How many times have you done something not good for you (drank too much, eaten too much dessert, slept with someone you should've have) and, after, told yourself you wouldn't do it again? How many times have you done it again? And again? I'd like to say that isn't me, that I'm the kind of person who can make a mistake once, learn from it, and make better choices next time, but that is, unfortunately, not the case.
In my life, I have made bad choices and then I've made them over and over and over again. I've walked down the street, seen the hole, and fallen in over and over and over again. It's happened on purpose. It's happened by accident. It's happened by habit. But, for whatever reason, it's happened. And I bet it's happened to you too. I bet you there's something you do that is unhealthy, but you do it anyway. It could be a small thing or a big thing, but I bet you there is something that you wish you didn't do but you can't seem to stop doing. These steps give me (and, hopefully you too) hope.
Hope. What a beautiful, wonderful, inspiring word. It's something that I once would have thought of as cheesy or cliche. "Hope," I would have scoffed, "Who believes in that shit?" But now I see things differently. I see that I really do have the ability to change things in my life; I can change the things that lead me down that street and towards that hole. I'm learning that I have the strength to say no, to walk around the hole. I don't know if I've quite found my way down a different street, but I am working on it. I am, like so many things in this world, a work in progress.
No matter what your "deep hole" is in life, there is hope. There is hope that you can get out of the hole once you've fallen in and there is hope that, even if you've made the same mistake over and over again, you can find a new way to live that doesn't involve ever falling into (or walking past) that hole again.
I'd like to share with you some really inspiring and hopeful lyrics from A Fine Frenzy's song "Hope for the Hopeless." These words really give me a sense of hope and I hope they do the same for you. No matter what has happened or what situation you find yourself in there is always, always hope.
Stitch in your knitted brow
And you don't know how
You're gonna get it out
Crushed under heavy chest
Trying to catch your breath
But it always beats you by a step
Making the best of it
You're not alone in this
There's hope for the hopeless
There's hope for the hopeless
Cold in a summer breeze
Yeah, you're shivering on your bended knee
Still, when your heart is sore
And the heavens pour
Like a willow bending with the storm
You'll make it
Running against the wind
Playing the cards you get
Something is bound to give
There's hope for the hopeless
There's hope for the hopeless
No matter how much you feel like you will always keep making the same mistakes or doing the same bad behaviors over and over again (trust me, I felt that way for years), there is hope. You can, if you choose to, find a way out. But don't forget that hope and the ability to change old patterns lies within you. You have to make the change. You have to walk around the hole and you have to eventually choose to go down a different street. While you may have some wonderful guidance that tugs on your hand and says, "Hey, let's go this way," it's ultimately up to you to make the choice, to make a change, to walk down a different street.
I LOVE this post and that passage on the Stages of Recovery. Wow. The metaphor of the big black hole and not seeing it or pretending not to see it...it's such a great way to explain it. I've had my share of bad habits. Fortunately I've dropped some of them (drinking to much, and sleeping with who?!) but my vice is chocolate. You know it, I know it, and Cadbury's knows it.
Again, how are you only in your 20's and already know this stuff? I think you have an old soul. ; )
Posted by: kirwin | April 28, 2009 at 09:51 AM
I just love how you put it! Recovery seems to be just like that, a habit we couldn't seem to break. Sometimes we think we've already overcome it, but we haven't really overcome it until we no longer need to walk in it, until we feel we can begin anew and walk in a different street. :-)
Posted by: I TAKE OFF THE MASK | April 28, 2009 at 10:12 AM
That is a wonderful piece your shrink shared with you. I don't have my copy handy, but I believe it's from Portia Nelson's There's a Hole in My Sidewalk. Another shrink friend of mine shared it with me a few years ago.
Yay, shrink friends!
Posted by: the communicatrix | April 28, 2009 at 10:15 AM
Communicatrix - I agree. It's a great piece and thanks for the tip on who wrote it. I tried looking it up online but couldn't find it. It's certainly not the first thing to come up when you type in "Stages of Recovery" haha. Yay shrink friends is right! :) They are awesome.
I Take Off the Mask - Thanks! I'm glad you liked it it. It's really hard to break habits (big or small) and we really only truly break them when we choose a different path in life.
Kirwin - I'm so glad you enjoyed it as much I enjoyed reading about the five stages! When I read them yesterday I was so impressed with simplicity and power in their words. Chocolate is a hard one to break...I'm with you on that. It's one of those things that's great in moderation, but it's so hard to moderate because it's delicious. The other day I realized while filling out a fellow blogger's survey that I eat chocolate EVERY DAY and it's the only thing that I eat every day. I need to work on that!
Funny that you mention the "old soul," because I overheard my dad saying that about me a few weeks ago. I've always been a thinker and a writer so I guess that's where all of this comes from, but I've also had a lot of (not so pleasant) experiences that have gotten me to this sort of crossroad in my life.
Thanks for coming by PP. I really do appreciate your support -- and the support of all of my other awesome readers! :)
Posted by: positively present | April 28, 2009 at 10:58 AM
I love this story, it is so wise and full of lessons that we all need to learn. Our journey is a process and we must allow ourselves to fall and get back up and learn from the obstacles which come our way.
Posted by: Mark | April 28, 2009 at 12:27 PM
Thank you so much for sharing this today, PP. I am certainly guilty of falling some of these pot-hole patterns over and over again, though I like to think I'm getting a bit better at either side-stepping them or, better yet, taking another street. This was a nice reminder that I'm in good company and to keep trying. Well done, you, on the leaps and strides you've made already in your own life.
Posted by: Chania Girl | April 28, 2009 at 01:33 PM
Mark - I agree. This story has a lot of value in it. I learned a lot from reading it and I'm so glad I was able to share it with others today. Life is definitely a process and recovery of any kind usually involves falling back in the hole a few times. But we can always get back out and someday, hopefully, we will be able to walk down a different street entirely.
Chania Girl - Hello, friend! I think I'm getting better at it too, but it's always a bit tricky to avoid them when you're so used to taking the same route day after day. You are definitely in good company. As always, thanks for the encouragement. It's MUCH appreciated. :)
Posted by: positively present | April 28, 2009 at 01:44 PM
It's funny how some things just come along @ just the right time. I went to see my therapist this morning & had some real breakthroughs..& to come here & see this just made me realize I am definitely moving forward in my recovery.
Thanks so much for such an inspiring post. Your blog is amazing -- & I'm sitting here reading through all the archives right now =)
Posted by: erica lee | April 28, 2009 at 09:44 PM
Thanks for refreshing my memory on this. Going down another street is so daunting for many people yet that which we feel most discomfort for will eventually bring us the greatest joy.
Posted by: Account Deleted | April 28, 2009 at 11:55 PM
That was a good informative post. Thanks for sharing the recovery steps with us.
Posted by: Sunny Jamiel | April 29, 2009 at 01:08 AM
Erica - That's so great that you're moving forward in your recovery! Congratulations! I'm so glad that you like the blog. It's become one of the highlights of my day and it makes me so happy to know that other people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.
Raphael - So true! While going down a new street can be scary at first, it will ultimately bring us true and lasting happiness. Great point!
Sunny - You're welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed reading the steps.
Posted by: positively present | April 29, 2009 at 08:51 AM
Your post reminded us of one of our favorite quotes:
"The Grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for." -Allan K. Chalmers
Thanks for another wonderful post. :-)
Roxanne and Hugo ~ Believe Achieve
Posted by: Believe Achieve - Hugo and Roxanne | May 01, 2009 at 02:47 AM
Hugo & Roxanne - Thanks for posting that quote. It's a great one! :)
Posted by: positively present | May 01, 2009 at 10:17 AM
Thanks for having that up, I am going to cite you on it in my blog.
Posted by: pandoraslitlbox.livejournal.com | September 09, 2009 at 08:51 AM
Pandora - Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it enough to mention it on your blog too.
Posted by: positively present | September 09, 2009 at 10:45 AM