I just spent six days in rehab. Not the kind you see on reality TV show but kind of an offshoot that was more like a workshop for people who couldn’t figure out how to get out of their own way and put their chaotic lives back on track. The derailment for all of us at this retreat was for the same reason – we had become consumed by the obsession of fixing, managing and controlling our out-of-control loved one’s lives.
It was six wonderful days of living in the forest, fortunately in comfortable accommodations, with a group of fantastic human beings who had the same mission I did and that was to achieve clarity and find an elusive center of peace – otherwise, to stop the insanity. It was a rehabilitation program of sorts and the discovery that there was actually a label for our dysfunctional behaviour, CO-DEPENDENT (which in itself is a form of addiction), was incredibly liberating. This nasty little characteristic has an amazing ability to steal your energy, stunt your creative growth and lead you to commit some unwise acts of aggression, all resulting in the surety that you have achieved the undesirable status of being a certified nut bar.
During those days among my new peers, along with the help and guidance of some amazing professionals, the work began. Hours upon hours of all participants talking about how our loves one’s crisis condition had impacted each of us. We had to learn to trust and use the incredible healing energy of nature with the end goal to finally achieve a level of just GETTING IT. I was finding my own center, exploring what had made me who I am today and then reversing some of the negative impacts through counseling, meditating, education and numerous nature walks. Finally, the result was a light bulb slowly turning on in my exhausted brain……a slowly increasing wattage, but a light nonetheless.
I was finally seeing the proverbial forest for the trees – understanding that trying to control situations through my words and actions to avoid the worst case outcome, had merely been creating the true manifestation of that very thing! What we want most to NOT happen, still does….regardless of how obsessed we become in our attempt to ensure it does not. There was absolutely nothing I did or could have done that stopped that dreaded outcome. That is the nature of the universe so why break down some perfectly good brain cells and stress some perfectly good internal organs by trying to alter an already existing plan?
I had, prior to my week in the woods, been following three rules – don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel. Two days into the program I couldn’t stop talking. And that was because I unconditionally began to trust my fellow crazy “inmates” as they completely identified with my angst! Some of them had done even crazier things than I had. And then I began to feel. What an overwhelming experience to really feel instead of pushing it back down into that dark place we refuse to visit. Tears, anger, fear, resentment…..followed by a slowly dawning clarity and understanding. And finally……peace, acceptance and giving it up to a Higher Presence to just let things fall into the place they were designed to be.
Slipping back into my old habits of believing I can control situations and steer them in the way I think they should go is a constant temptation. So it’s work. Every single day. Constantly doing personal checks on my thought processes; keeping up the conversation with my peers; regularly attending a support group and practicing daily, the freedom of acceptance, serenity and non-judgmental living.
And I’m getting there. It may sound like a lot of work and at the beginning, it is. But it also quickly takes hold because it feels so very good and so very right. And the real reward is in knowing I am a better person who can love wholeheartedly. Now I can freely let go of the self-critical thinking and give me a pat on the back once in awhile for my dedication to live my life as healthy and whole as possible.
Recovery isn’t just for alcoholics, drug addicts, gambling addicts, shopaholics or whatever other “ics” and “icts” that might be in people’s lives. Recovery is forever as well for those “feeling crazy” people, who really love a struggling someone in their lives, who tend to take on the responsibility to fix that someone else’s bad choices and who sometimes get very lonely in that traumatic, chaotic, co-dependent world.
I wish I had known this decades ago, and we’ve all heard this before, but as I unequivocally learned in my 6 days in rehab is that regrets are a waste of time and energy and need to be filed away permanently in the shoulda, woulda, coulda folder. The present moment is the place in which we must learn to live so that the future unfolds as intended and the past stays where it belongs.
I will always be a co-dependent in recovery, learning new things about life all the time. But I do find peace in knowing that I now have the tools I need to make sure this all-too-short experience we are given on Planet Earth is not spent obsessing about worst case scenarios and driving myself and everyone around me crazy in the process.
It is what it is and what it will be, despite our best efforts to thwart that outcome so we might as well step out of the way and enjoy this tremendous ride.
Woman’s Head – Wikimedia Commons
Trees – all-free-download.com