The New Olympic Sport: Confronting and Walking Through "Worst-Case Scenarios"
BY: TAMI HARPER WINN
I have had my fair share of “worst-case scenarios” in these last few years. Probably anyone who knows me will back me up on that one. In fact, I think sometimes I am being trained for a new Olympic sport of confronting and walking through “worst-case scenarios”. If so, then make no mistake - I’m bringing home the gold.
This last week I was confronted with a very real situation involving my health. It has taken me a moment to digest the reality of it and to tell you the truth, I’m not sure it has fully registered. As most of you already know, I have been going through some pretty concerning medical issues. It started in December when my doctor told me that, "I had better change what is going on outside of the office and do it fast, because my life depended on it."
Those were hard words to swallow. But I knew then that gravity of the situation was getting pretty intense. I told her then that, “short of buying a one-way ticket to Cabo, how did she expect I should do that?” I immediately went home, called an old friend on a favor and booked a flight to Cabo that night. Now it wasn’t a one-way ticket (we all know that’s crazy talk), but I did book it and I went. It was there that I took a break from my life back home and gave myself enough space to see it with a “new pair of glasses”.
People noticed a dramatic difference upon my return in how I acted and my overall demeanor. I was happier – freer. They boldly told me I was glowing. Now I know everyone cannot jet-set across the world or even leave for that matter, but I could at the time. I wasn’t running away from my problems. In fact, I was doing just the opposite. I was running towards the solution. I never once thought I was escaping what was really waiting for me back home. I just needed a time-out from my life.
The only way I can describe it today when I explain it to others is in an analogy. You see, every good sports team needs a break during a game, so they take half-time breaks and quarter breaks to regroup and re-strategize. They use that time to see what was working and what wasn’t working so they can readjust their game plan. They take time-outs when the players need immediate restructure or just a plain break. They know enough that in the thick of the game its often time hard to get a grip on the strategy once it starts unraveling. Its like taking an inventory of sorts.
That’s what I did. I took a time-out when I went to Mexico so I could step outside of the madness I called life and get a clearer perspective on what was needed next. I needed to breath and just be. That’s exactly what I needed and what I got. I knew from my short time there that it was mandatory in my life to respect myself enough to give myself time-outs. I was worth that.
After getting back I was on a high trying to figure out how to maintain what I had learned in Mexico about myself. As life would have it, it was coming at me full force once again and it was only a short time before I was back into my old thought patterns and behaviors. I felt defeated. You see, in sports, there is a coach to call the time-outs and it is structured into the game to take breaks. In life, I do not have a daily coach and breaks are not written into the outline of life. I have to make the call and if I don’t something outside of me will. I forgot.
Fast forward a few more months, my body was indicating to me that something was wrong. My intuition, though still gaining strength, was telling me that I had better listen. I did. Back to the doctors I went. That’s when I got hit with a truth I can’t say I didn’t see coming. My brain was the culprit making me sick.
The “worst-case scenario” came to light last week when the doctor confirmed that I did in fact have what we had expected – a brain tumor. Yep, you heard me right. My brain is literally trying to take me out. Now, as I have begun the process of doctors and tests and processing this information I have been confronted with one very stark reality – everything must change again.
I have gotten good at accepting change so I’m not so frightened. I have hope, a solution, and my recovery is a valuable tool I get to use in this process. You see, the type of tumor I have most likely came about as a result of stress, or the hormone of cortisol being flooded into my body on a daily basis due to the amounts of stress I deal with or don’t deal with. How I think about things has trained my brain to be in constant fight-or-flight mode and as a result, I have caused my own sickness. What a reality check that was. The only way way to help myself without long term devastating effects, was to change my way of thinking and ultimately reduce my stress. This in turn, could possibly reverse the size and maybe even eradicate it. Hell, if my mind could create a tumor, it could surely heal it, right?
There is so much more I could go into here, and at some point I imagine I will. But for now speaking my truth about how my thoughts are actually physically harming me and how I deal with my “worst-case scenarios” is what is relevant. How I have been living my life up until now is not sufficient enough to sustain a quality of life I truly want, no matter how sober I am. Something has to give.
My brain has obviously wanted me dead for some time now. It apparently believes that is what I want. I have to somehow get it to realize the truth. I want to live. But, figuring out how to make myself believe that and then live that way is going to be the biggest adventure so far on my journey through recovery.
It was once about how to get and stay sober. In the beginning, that is the most crucial thing to be focused on. But, for so many of us we get stuck there; I know I did. There are a lot of writers and bloggers out there that are in that arena and I have ridden side-by-side with them. I commend their mission. It is a very important one. Now, for me, the journey has taken a different turn – as it will with all of us the longer we stay sober.
I will leave that arena to those whose passion is vested there. For me today, due to my experiences (which I have always written from that point of view), my vision is transforming into a new arena. As I learn in this process of recovery I want to share what it is I learn. I want to take recovery to the next level. I want to grow my recovery to a height I have yet to hear about or experience personally. It will be about self-care in recovery and how to have a healthy meaningful life as a recovered addict/alcoholic. Today, I begin a new training camp or way of thinking about life in recovery and you are most welcome to come along.
I am still in the process of realization and acceptance. I just ask that you bear with me through this transition. I’m assured by my coaches that my training will be brutal. I have to keep my eye on the gold medal. I promise to be honest with you during this, as I always have been. I want to help others see the beauty in this thing called life, every part of it, all while staying sober. So, there may be tough topics I discuss. There may be parts of your recovery that you get to take a look at in a different light. If nothing else, you will know that there is more to recovery than just not drinking. There is more to this than just fighting through each day. The truth is, I didn’t know how to live life with alcohol, why would I possibly think I would know how to live life without it? Let the games begin.
~ Tami Harper Winn ~
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