Lately I’m feeling like a human doing instead of a human being. Work has been busy, and off work time seems to be sucked dry by the various maintenance tasks that keep the week running smoothly – the cats need to be fed, dishes need washing, laundry needs folding, the occasional vacuum, bills, etc - Arghh!! And as much as I don’t want to acknowledge it, part of my frustration seems to be related to a shift in my overall energy level. I’ve always been a “the more you do, the more you can do!” kind of person, but that is shifting to “I’ve had enough, thank you.”
I'm also bearing the the collective weight of working in behavioral health care - I've witnessed, and listened to, a lot of pain over my 30+ years in the field. Fortunately (or I couldn't have done it for so long), I am a generally optimistic person, and at work, would characterize myself as a bringer of hope and humor. And, there are only so many stories of abuse and neglect and outright depravity one can listen to without becoming just a wee bit jaded.
In her book, Trauma Stewardship, L. van Dernoot Lipsky: writes, “In traditional Chinese medicine, there is a belief that dis-ease in one’s being comes in part from stagnant energy... An important part of well-being in this tradition is keeping the energy moving and not allowing it to stagnate around any one feeling or issue.” My energy has definitely been stagnating around my work, which is why is it SO important for me to laugh with friends & loved ones, to hike in the woods, and get on an airplane every once in awhile.
Monday was the 1st of the month, which reminded me of the tiny thrill I used to experience when those two days coincided. As a kid, starting at 9 or 10, I was always coming up with a plan, whether that was losing weight (yes, at 10 years old) or being more helpful around the house. "Monday the 1st" felt like an auspicious beginning, though my plan, charts included, rarely made it through even the first week. But, I’d sit at my little desk, with a ruler and notebook paper and the best of intentions, convinced that with the right formula I would not only do better, I would be better. It makes me sad to think of the little girl who was convinced that she wasn’t ok as-is.
I continued with these types of plans after leaving home, but alas, I am an alcoholic, which impacted my moral compass. My best laid plans for emotional or physical discipline held little weight once I was into the second bottle of wine. Thank GOD for the Good, Orderly Direction provided in the 12 Steps, what I’d been looking for all my life. And for so long, I worked the program, continuing to strive for not just doing, but being better. Speaker Lila R. says that at the core, most alcoholics suffer from the “not enough” syndrome – I know I have. But as I heard in a meeting this week, relief comes with the realization that, in long term recovery, I am no longer working a program, with its inherent hammer, but am allowing the principles of the program to express through me.
It has taken a long time, but I no longer operate with the gaping wound of “not ok.” It flares, especially when my self-care is off, but I’m better able to see that while temporary circumstances might not be ok, I’m just fine, defenses (defects) and all. I’m just fine because I surrender on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis to the knowledge that I’m not running the show. I’m not running your show, or the guy in the car that just passed me’s show; I’m not running the weather show, or the passage of time show. And particularly, I’m not running my show. I suit up and show up, and try to stay out of my own way.
Where are the places that your energy gets stuck? How can the Steps and principles of the program guide you to a place of letting go?