F.E.A.R. - Face Everything and Recover
BY: TAMI HARPER WINN
Negative thoughts are like cockroaches. Wherever one is, there is sure to be millions more like that one lurking in the shadows that I can’t see. They are just as ugly and disease ridden too. If I let one in, I’m just asking for all the others to come and join it. I have to stay vigilant with my insecticide regimen I call recovery, or I’m doomed. Trust me, it’s an endless battle, some days are better than others. Sometimes I can go days without experiencing one and I forget that I have that problem. Then, out of the blue, one shows up and freaks me out or worse, a dozen or more show up and I feel out numbered. Sometimes I misplace my line of defense and I’m in a tailspin trying to figure out where I put it. Other times I’m completely out of my insecticide because I forgot to fill up, and I’m trying to use other methods to combat the attack, but to a very futile end I might add. It’s exhausting.
Lately, as I embark on my #YesFast I have met with a lot of resistance – mostly from my family. I have created a dynamic in my family that I can’t say I didn’t know existed, but that I am now coming to terms with. Because I suffer from both sides of the coin (otherwise known as being a double-winner) I not only suffer from alcoholism, but I also am sick with the Al anon side of it as well, or what others call codependency.
I have found it fascinating to see people’s responses to my 30-day challenge. This challenge was merely set up at the last minute as I tried to figure out a game plan for this year. I have been dealing with some pretty tough medical issues and life changes that have caused me to rethink how I am living my life. Since I don’t want to die, I choose to live and this challenge is just one of my own personal journeys that I am sharing with the world and making myself accountable to. This challenge had nothing else to do with any one particular person or event. Yet, so many people have thought it was.
I find it humorous when someone approaches me to ask if my daily “NO” was because of them. It makes me wonder what they are thinking. But that’s not mine. My daily “NO’s” are just that – mine. They don’t necessarily have to do with any one certain person. They are challenges that I have been presented with daily that allow me to grow – painfully I might add as well. We are such self-centered creatures aren’t we? So, let me add here that if for any reason my “NO” for the day affects you that way, trust me its not you, its me I’m talking about.
Still, when I tell people this they seem unsure. That’s ok. I keep moving along. I know its working because I have had people get upset that I am saying “NO” and taking care of myself. To my loved ones and those I interact with regularly, it looks like I am rocking the boat, straight up abandoning them. They are in a panic and look at me with baffled faces when they see me take this approach with them. They are stunned. That’s ok. I keep moving along.
I have a problem with balance. It is an art or sport, which ever you choose to call it, that I have yet to master successfully. So, I am getting the chance to learn to balance this with all the other aspects of my life. Saying “NO” can get addicting too, especially when I am getting positive results.
But, even as I meet resistance, I have to admit I can start to doubt myself. It is easy to when the ones I love are staring me in my face with wounded expressions or are saying things like, “But you’re my mom, who else am I suppose to turn to?” When they throw accusations like, “You had a part in how my life turned out” and “This recovery thing you are doing is only hurting us” I can’t help but feel guilt and pain. I start down the road of regret and soon the negative thoughts have made their way into my consciousness. I am questioning everything about me and punishing myself for things I thought I had forgiven myself for years ago.
It’s a vicious cycle that I can get caught up in. When someone I love or care about expresses pain, especially when it is or was potentially caused by me, it can cause me undue duress. It’s a hard train to stop once it has left the station.
So, what do I do now to combat that when I am confronted with it? Well, I’m not always successful. It certainly has more challenging days than not, but that is where I get to grow. I try to look at it like that. That has helped. More importantly I take steps to prepare myself for moments such as this.
I found an inspiring article in the Huffington Post by Dr. Carmen Harra called “Overcoming Fear in 8 Steps.” Here she uses an acronym to help remember the steps she outlines. These are common sense strategies that aren’t always so commonly used in a moment of crisis.
Fear is said to be addressed in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous 63 times, so apparently it is something that is common with alcoholics and those in recovery. However, there is little discussed on how to arrest it. That is not the responsibility of the program, even though it does address fear in the inventory process. However, it is not the programs responsibility to address every part of how we deal with life. There are others like Dr. Harra and other methods that are considered “outside help.” The Big Book clearly states that we may need to seek these out – for fear I needed to do just that.
Dr. Harra uses the acronym F.E.A.R.L.E.S.S. I’ve listed this acronym on my mirror to help me to stay conscious of the vigil I must hold against my constant enemy. The acronym is broken down to face the truth, erase negative imprints, allow changes, relax, listen to your intuition (a big one for me), end feuds, selectivity, and be secure in yourself. They are simple but effective in helping me to stay centered and move out of negative thought patterns usually brought on by fear.
I know today as I turn the corner to a new life once again in this healing process, I get to face everything and recover. I have a solution. It is a potent match for the insects of self doubt, negative self talk, and fear that lurk just outside my sight. I don’t have to do this alone or be afraid anymore. I can succeed and I will - despite the naysayers.
~ Tami Harper Winn ~
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