Throughout my recovery, I have battled with many uncomfortable feelings. But that shouldn’t be a surprise to me as while I was at Homewood Rehabilitation Hospital, I learned that this is an unavoidable battle while healing from any addiction, because addicts numb their feelings for so long causing any feeling to be uncomfortable. In fact, not wanting to feel is quite literally why many people become addicts in the first place!- We hated uncomfortable feelings, and when one came along…we knew how to numb it…so we did. And with time, not wanting to feel anything, ever, slowly becomes part of our daily life. So much so that the guarantee that suicide brings of never feeling anything again becomes a VERY real, (and in our deluded minds practical) option.
I am one of the lucky ones, because I have mentors who love me and encourage me to keep moving forward when uncomfortable feelings rear their ugly heads. My sister in law Mandy is the most important mentor of this kind. She is SO wise, and knows that I still need to feel uncomfortable feelings to some level in order to let it pass and to see that I am still ok…and maybe even stronger than I was before.
She has a talent for teaching through listening long enough to show myself that I had the answer and strength to get through my worry in the first place, (insert the Good Witch saying to Dorothy: “You always had the power to go home, you just needed to learn it for yourself”) …and listening that attentively is no easy task when I’m trying to explain my worries – Allow me to elaborate. I may be able to get a thought or two in order when I write, but I am as organized as a Walmart on Boxing Day when it comes to talking about my concerns. I usually fumble my way through a story that starts in the middle, backs up to the beginning, goes off topic and then at some point finally resumes to get to where I originally was headed in the first place…Sigh. And rather than jump in with her personal advice right away, my sister in law listens, supports and reiterates what I am saying, and by doing so, I seem to get to an answer for the most part on my own. She’s sort of like…magic!
So when I was extremely nervous about going back on the road as a paramedic for three months before I entered into the training coordinator position, she always let me talk, hear myself, and see that some things may be uncomfortable, but they are not impossible! She never let me walk away from an opportunity, but at the same time she never told me what to do. She was able to see past my worries, and had faith that I could too. And after every conversation that started with, “I’m not sure I want to go to work tonight”, I would always find myself putting on my uniform and battling my inner reluctance and doubt, because I knew that no matter what happened, there was a wonderful opportunity waiting for me at the end. Was it easy, no. Was it worth it, yes!
Recovery is tough, and yes we all have limits and healthy boundaries to enforce in order to heal. Ie: it may not have been a healthy option for another person to go back on the road as a paramedic even for one shift. But I pray that everyone can find a Mandy in their life, and be given the opportunity to learn what is possible when we get through uncomfortable.