Several years ago I began to truly accept that my mental health issues are chronic and that I was not going to solve them completely now, next month, or next year. Such an approach may work for fixing a broken faucet, but it is not valid for the kinds of challenges I, and many of us, face.
It took me nearly half a lifetime to appreciate that recovery really is a long winding and enormously difficult journey that may indeed last my entire lifetime!
Of course I had heard others say that over and over again, but somehow I never thought that applied to me. Was I arrogant and thought I would outsmart all of this? Was I not feeling up to the task of a lifelong journey?
For most of us who have a long history of child sexual abuse, our lives have always been about getting through this moment and that crisis. We were conditioned to just "get through" events in our lives. In other words: to survive them. When asked to look at "the big picture" or "5 years out" or "10 years out", I used to think to myself "What are you talking about? Do people really think like this?"
The world we live in feeds into a moment-to-moment and crisis-to-crisis pattern. We compete against this all the time. Our 2012 world is one in which time is compressed. We can know what someone is thinking instantly via Twitter or Instant Message, news anywhere in the world is instantly splashed all over Cable TV or on your Web browser... the volume of information available to us is so enormous that we have no time to process it. The pace of "normal" life is ridiculous but many of us have come to accept it and pass it on to the next generation by over scheduling our children and doing away with time honored traditions like sitting down and talking!
In stark contrast, a healing journey is centered around expanding time. For example, a trigger can instantly lead to a mental collapse or a self-destructive act. But if we can learn to expand time, we can become aware of what happens between the trigger and the response, and we can intervene. Even though the chain of events can go by quite quickly, there is a chain of events. I believe that is what all of healing is about.
If we are an active participant in our fast-paced modern world, I think healing must involve committing ourselves to finding a balance, which means having time for resting, self-soothing, and self-reflection. That is not easy, because for many, the fast pace can be a convenient distraction.
The growth in our western hemisphere of eastern influences of yoga, tai chi, mindfulness and meditation of the past decade or more, have been enormously helpful to so many people. Many of these can be tools to help us broaden our awareness, expand time, and restore that elusive balance. It is possible.
This is what I try to tell myself pretty much every day. It does not always work. I am not always safe. Or content. Or happy. But I do fully accept this journey I am on.
I am going to try to write more here. It was helpful for so long and for some reason I am having difficulty finding the right words. I still do write a lot in my private journal, but it seems distilling from that what I want to put here is a bottleneck. The next Expressive Arts Carnival Activity will be posted on June 1, 2012.