The Never Ending Story

As soon as I make a little bit of progress – and find a few moments of hope and belief – I seem determined to crash and burn, just to prove to myself recovery is either impossible, or impossibly difficult.

What happened? Who gives a shit – same old, same old. But if there’s one thing I am taking away from this recovery gig, it is the importance of pulling my pink spotty bed socks up, and getting on with things. No point wallowing around in one of my infamous pity parties – they gain me nothing and I’ll be there all by myself.

Every day is a new day and a fresh start, and today’s poor choices do not need to be repeated again.

I tell myself this at the end of every day – it is an ineffective strategy for making any lasting change. My halo of snapchat flowers are bright and angelic first thing every morning, and by afternoon they feel as fake as the smooth, porcelain skin the snapchat filter thoughtfully plasters across my aging visage.

So how do I find lasting change? By implementing some of the tools I accrued over the last decade or so – the most important of which are mind tools. Changing thought patterns so ingrained I don’t even know they’re there. We have been doing an exercise in identifying thought patterns. It goes like this…

  1. Situation
  2. Thoughts
  3. Feelings
  4. Actions
  5. Results

Then you do the exercise again with reframed thoughts and feelings, which leads to different actions and results. Or so the theory goes. I get stuck though.

I can identify situations (phew!). Then I hesitate a little, but with a lot of digging, start to figure out what I’m thinking. The next step is the tricky bit – feelings. I don’t know what they are. Well – that’s not true… I know what feelings are – but I can’t feel them. Logically I know what I’m probably feeling, but I can’t notice it. I’m just numb all the time.

I don’t want to be numb any more. I’ve been talking about these feelings for quite some time now – years with my psychologist. I hear again and again feelings won’t kill me – I’m sure that’s true. I don’t think I’m likely to find out in a hurry though!

As a child I was highly emotional – easily brought to tears, or laughing so hard I wet myself.

And it was never approved of. I learned to suck it all in and produce a pasty bland face showing nothing. Or to plaster on the appropriate level of joy, jealousy, or rejected. The emotions were still there of course – bursting at the seams to the point I routinely couldn’t hold back tears, adding a deep level of shame and horror every time. So I learned to numb. And I am awfully jolly good at numbing myself.

Now when I try to remove those numbing activities, and to consciously access the well of emotion to see what’s sitting there, I feel dumbfounded. What’s there? Am I sad? Why? Am I just thinking through this logically, or am I genuinely sad? There are things to be sad about – we all have things to be sad about if we focus on them. So perhaps I’m meant to be focusing on the things I’m happy about – we all have things to be happy about if we focus on them. But then I’m conscious of the fact I’m forcing myself to feel something, rather than allowing whatever is there to just bubble up and be.

I hope this is a case of practice makes perfect. I have a lot of practice to do. I’m willing to do it – and I’d like to see some results.

The other mind work I need to do is meditation, mindfulness and visualisation. I need to do some aspect of this every single morning. Every. Single. Day. It needs to become a non-negotiable, essential part of my day. Just like brushing my teeth, having a shower, and painting my public face on.

All the other tools I’ve found and utilised are great, but mental health issues are mental. Which is defined as relating to the mind. And all the other tools are the important garnish, but if the mind is not developed and healed, they are always just bandaids on a gaping wound.

So here I go again, circling around in this never ending story. Polishing my halo of filtered snapchat flowers and hoping I can choose to make the choices that will lead to lasting change. It’s up to me. It has always been up to me.

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