I’ve been struggling with what to write for this “first” blog post. I’ve felt so much pressure from myself to have the perfect beginning. I’ve wondered, do I start with my story? Do I start with where I am today? Do I start with a favorite quote? Something I’m struggling with? What I love most about recovery? Recovery tips? What would add the most value to my own recovery?
What keeps coming back to me over and over is one of my favorite words. Awareness.
“Until we make the unconscious conscious it will direct our lives and we will call it fate.”
– Carl Jung
This statement accurately describes my life before recovery. I was completely unaware. I was unaware of trauma and it’s impact on me. I was unaware of my own feelings, the negative storylines that were replaying over and over in my mind. I was unaware of the toxic shame I carried. I was unaware of the resentments I held on to. I was unaware of what I was doing to act out. All of these things were hidden in my unconscious and it directed my life. I called it fate.
When I was in elementary school, I failed the vision test at school. It wasn’t until I went to the eye doctor that I had any awareness that my reality was different than the majority of my classmates. I knew that when I sat in the back of the classroom, it was hard to see the words on chalkboard. But I didn’t know that this wasn’t normal, because this was my lived experience. I didn’t have an awareness of anything else. Going to the eye doctor helped bring awareness that I wasn’t seeing things as well as most of my classmates. It brought an awareness to me that there was a deficiency that needed to be addressed. I had new information that I could use to help me to see better. I found some cute rose colored glasses and we walked outside. (seriously.. my first pair of glasses were rose colored.) We started driving home and for the first time in my life I saw leaves on the trees! It was as if a whole new world had been opened up to me. Now granted, I knew that trees had leaves. I climbed trees, I raked leaves. But my lived experience was that when I was driving down the road, trees became brown trunks and a bushy green top. Glasses were a tool that brought another layer of awareness I hadn’t previously had. I COULD SEE LEAVES ON TRESS FROM FAR AWAY! This blew my mind. My entire life had been spent completely unaware of this simple truth. I didn’t know what I didn’t know until I knew it.
This has been true of my recovery journey as well. I didn’t know what I didn’t know before I knew it. I didn’t know about the negative stories I’ve told myself most of my life. I didn’t know that I was full of resentment and shame. I didn’t know that trauma existed in my life. I didn’t know I could feel peace or what that even really meant. I didn’t know myself. I think deep in my soul I knew there was something wrong, but I was unaware of what that was or how to access it. Until I had an awareness about my own feelings, they directed my life and I called it fate. I lived in a state of numbness and was completely unaware.
Recovery has given me tools to bring new awareness to my life. In recovery, awareness has been my rose colored glasses.
It’s been the first tool I’ve used in most of the changes I have made. When I’m wearing these glasses, I’m aware of feelings I have and what I chose to do with these feelings. I’m more aware when I chose to numb out. I’m aware of shame triggers and what I feel physically when I get them. I’m aware of storylines and how they impact my choices. I’m aware of my old behaviors and their damaging effects on my life. I’m aware of the crippling shame I have carried for most of my life. I’m aware that fear has been the driving force in my life. I’m aware of the deep seeded hate I’ve had for myself. I’m aware that I’m responsible for my own choices and my choices alone. I’m aware that no amount of controlling others will lead to my desired outcome.
Awareness doesn’t mean I’m perfect. Just because I’m aware of my feelings doesn’t mean that I always act in a positive way. Sometimes, I’m aware and still chose to numb out. Sometimes my awareness comes after a big fight with a family member or after I’ve just eaten 4 handfuls of gummy bears. To me, this is still progress. Awareness is still present in my life, and I will take it whenever I can get it.
Awareness has taught me that I have a choice. I chose whether or not I want to talk back to the negative voices in my head. I chose if I want to react a different way. I chose if I want to practice self love. I chose if I want to numb out. I chose if I want to go back and apologize when my awareness of my feelings comes after a fight with a family member. I chose if I want to pick up the shame of someone else around me. I chose if I want to act on my awareness.
Awareness helped me to see that I was spinning my wheels and it didn’t really matter what my “first” blog post was. What matters more than content is my authenticity. Being real and writing about what is real to me, today is most important. So here I am, sharing one of my favorite words and tools of recovery. What is your favorite word or tool in recovery? What does it mean to you?