Choices Today (part 2)
by Jennifer Hardy, CMPS, Peer Support Coordinator
In my recovery program one of the pillars of our organization is The Serenity Prayer: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, & wisdom to know the difference." The courage to change the things I can, may be the hardest part of this prayer for me. In my past life, I was so used to allowing myself to be a victim of my circumstances, that the courage to change things wasn't even an option. Today, if I do not like where I am living, I can take steps toward moving. If I don't like my job, I can begin looking for a new job. If I don't like the way someone treats me and I don't see the change I am looking for, I can choose to end the relationship. If I want to learn something new, I can take a class to learn something new. This may seem like common sense to some, but for me, I really was like a leaf blowing in the wind. Most of the time, I did what I did, lived where I lived and had in my life who happened to walk in my life. I would stay in the situation and be ordered by my feelings regarding the situation until something extreme enough happened to change the circumstances. I felt powerless over life in general and the thought of change seemed overwhelming to me. It was easier to do nothing but react and blame everyone else. What a joy it is to be set free from that mental prison today. Today, I find that when a choice needs to be made, I can lay out my steps and do one action at a time each day until things move. It feels good to be able to feel like I am directly influencing my circumstances each day. It gives me hope. I don't feel stuck any more. Even the smallest step in the direction of my choosing is still a step and my mind is free.
"THE SECRET OF CHANGE IS TO FOCUS ALL OF YOUR ENERGY, NOT ON FIGHTING THE OLD, BUT ON BUILDING THE NEW." ~Socrates
Another important thing I have the power of choice over today is the choice to take care of my self. I can choose to make time in my days for rest, for activities that bring me joy and make me feel good. If it is important to me, it is okay to prioritize my time to make sure it happens. I have been freed of the guilt that I used to feel if I did something nice for myself. What I have come to understand in recovery is that, ultimately, no one can completely care for anyone but their own self. For me to demand that anyone else meet all of my needs is like asking that person to be God. To expect that it is anyone else's responsibility to make sure I have the rest, exercise, and joy in my life that I need is absurd. Coming to understand that it is my job to care for me and that I can make choices to do just so each day has set me free. I no longer feel bad when I care for me, because it's my job! And the better I care for me, the better I am able to love and give of myself to others. I used to run myself ragged thinking I was indispensable to everyone else and that it would be selfish of me to take time for me. Now that I have begun to take better care of myself, I see the difference that it makes in my relationships. There is more energy and joy than there was before. Because what happens when you begin to set the boundary of self-care is that others see that they also are free to take care of their own selves. This leaves everyone feeling more balanced, happier and having more to offer one another.
"TAKING GOOD CARE OF YOU, MEANS THE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE WILL RECEIVE THE BEST OF YOU, RATHER THAN WHAT'S LEFT OF YOU." ~Carl Bryan
We have one more saying in my program that I will share today - "progress, not perfection". I won't claim to remember my gift of choice every moment of every day, but every day that I do remember is a better day. And every day that I can help another survivor remember that she is empowered to choose her life is a great day! Together we practice progress! And what a joy that is!