Transition: (noun)

  1. a) a change or shift from one state, subject, place, etc. to another
  1. b) a period or phase in which such a change or shift is happening

Change is inevitable. Everything changes. Some changes are easier to weather than others. We change when we age but most years just blend one into another. There are only a few that are truly significant and impact our lives in important ways. Change is a constant fact of life. If we aren’t changing, we aren’t growing, and if we aren’t growing, we’re dying.

The process of change is the difficult part. It isn’t a quick progression from point A to point B. That transition period is affected by many factors. How easily I embrace the process. How quickly I am willing to trust that this season of change is for my good. I have been finding my ability to do both of those to be easier the past few years, which speaks tremendously to the work I’ve done in learning how to trust Father in small things so that the big things become less daunting. However, I still have not reached the point where I don’t initially balk at the prospect. He knows me. And I can’t count the number of times He has graciously given me a heads up about change coming so that I would be prepared when I stared it in the face. I wish I could say that I embraced those warnings and bravely launched into the transition. That would be a lie. I still balk when it is before me, just for a (slightly) shorter time than I once did.

When my boy was 16, Father spoke to my heart and told me it was time to begin transitioning from parent/teacher to counselor/advisor. I needed to let him start making some of his own, more serious, decisions and allow him to do so while still safe under our care. As a codependent, that was hard enough, but I did recognize from my own experience how important it was for him to have the freedom to make mistakes while he was still within the shelter of home. With a plan in place of how I would manage this, I proceeded to do exactly that. I stepped back and let him begin to make big decisions. If he asked for my advice (and even sometimes when he didn’t), I would give it, but other than that, I was learning to let him be responsible for himself. That was especially hardest to do when I knew his decision would cause him pain, but I also knew my head-strong boy needed to learn some lessons on his own. This was the hardest when it came to letting him learn the hard way about not taking his anti-seizure meds. It took a few years, and a couple of seizures, for him to learn those lessons but learn them he did. In our state, the law is that an epileptic must be seizure-free for an entire year before they can get their driver’s license. That year was over the end of 2022, and after jumping through some bureaucratic hoops, he finally got his license last week. I am simultaneously thrilled and terrified by this prospect. I am so happy he will finally be able to experience some of the freedom and independence he has longed for (for three years longer than his peers). He has gained a great deal of wisdom, and he has some very wise people speaking into his life, so I am not overly concerned about really bad decisions being made. My main concern will always be the specter of epilepsy. This is the hardest to let go of. Will he remember to take his medicine? What if he has a seizure, and I’m not there? What if he has a seizure while driving? So many things I cannot control. Things I have already been letting him manage for quite some time, but it was easier to do that when I was his sole source of transportation. Even when he was with his friends, they knew and were extra cautious. Now, it is time to cut the strings and let my baby fly. And though I have been preparing for this season for almost four years, now that it is here, I am having a really hard time just letting go. I know what this means. I know the changes that are immediately before my family. He will get a job. Eventually, he will move out. And I know these are all good things and necessary for HIS continued growth (and mine, I know). But I’m struggling with the fact that this will change our family dynamic. He won’t be there at home with me for much longer. With very brief exceptions, he has been with me every day for the last almost 20 years. Soon, all those things I’ve been so used to, that time I was able to spend with him, will fade as he pursues the future Father has for him. And I know this is good, and I am thankful he has such a good relationship with the One who made him. At the same time, I am left trying to figure out what this means for me moving forward.

Which brings me to the next big change. I have spent the past few years preparing for this time. I’ve learned to pursue my own interests and have sought the path Father has laid before me. I’ve had some stops and starts along the way. Fear of failure is a beast to overcome. But He has been patient with me and has lovingly pushed me to take small steps of faith, one at a time. My first sponsor once told me that it is normal to be afraid to embark on something new, but that the more I grow in competence, the more I will grow in confidence. I have found this to be a true statement. I am still overcoming the damaging core beliefs of unworthiness and incapability, and most things I’m faced with trying, those are the leading beliefs, and I have to allow Father to talk me through each one, to speak truth to me in the moment so that I can keep replacing those lies I’ve believed with TRUTH. Unlearning is probably the hardest part of recovery, and I have a lot to relearn. He led me to take a step of faith in accepting a position with more responsibility than I have ever had before. I confess, I am terrified of messing up, of failing at this. I recognize that it is a great opportunity to learn more in preparation for the next big change coming later this year, and I also know I’m not alone. There are others I can rely on and turn to for help. And I am thankful, both for the opportunity to learn and also for the faith others have put in me. It’s just a lot of change all at once.

Maya Angelou once said, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” I think of the caterpillar, ensconced in its cocoon, its body dissolving into slime and wonder that somehow, that formless goo comes back together to become something truly beautiful. I guess I feel like I’m in the cocoon again. I wonder if the caterpillar knows what it will become? I am so thankful that the One who designed it to form that chrysalis knew exactly what that larva was destined to become and built into it the insatiable desire to fulfill its destiny. No fear of change for the butterfly. I seek to trust the One who created me for a unique purpose, one that He alone sees, and continue to work on surrendering completely to that vision.

Keep Walking

“You ever feel pressure to be perfect? Like, once you start in your steps you can never fail again? We all have the ability to become robotic in our recoveries and avoid feeling. Nobody likes to be tense, uptight, or stressed. Celebrate Recovery can help people recover from perfectionism or control. We all make mistakes and will continue to make them. We need to have grace for ourselves and others… just like God has grace for us. You are not a robot.” (quote from February 1, 2022, post on Celebrate Recovery Facebook page)

This year, I volunteered to co-lead a Journey Begins step study in my local CR. I was honest with my other co-leaders that I had come to realize that my first step study really dealt with my own self-hatred and the issues I was dealing with when I first entered recovery. As I have dug deeper into my heart and sought to bring ALL my hurts, hang-ups, and habits to Father, I realized that there was a lot of pain I had still been suppressing. Those have been rising to the surface in a desire to find the same freedom and healing that I initially experienced, and I have been hard-pressed to continue to ignore them. In fact, I did try for quite awhile, but there is still a hurting little girl inside me who demands to be seen and taken care of, and I have learned I am not loving myself well if I neglect those hurting parts of myself. I feel like I am clinging with all ten of my toes to a precipice overlooking deep pain, and I have no idea how I am going to react once I step off that ledge. There is a part of me that fears that possible reaction. I am afraid that it will be more than I can handle, and that I will shut down or even have an emotional breakdown. I wanted to be upfront with them, even though a dear mentor and one of the leaders of my very first step study assured me that would not happen. It’s so easy to fear the unknown, even when that is one’s self.

As I have gone further into our first Participant’s Guide answering each question honestly, I have seen my anxiety, my co-dependency, and what I am calling my control-freakiness explode. It took me awhile to realize that a lot of this is due to the fact that I was caught unaware by all the pain that I still have lurking, including, to my dismay, things I thought I had already worked through. My sponsor has encouraged me that I HAD worked through some of those things, but as I access deeper pain I also am bringing to surface the coping mechanisms that I developed in order to be able to survive that pain when I was not ready to deal with it. One of those things, I am finding, is perfectionism. I’ve always known I had perfectionist tendencies. That tends to go along with having a critical parent whose love seemed to be conditional upon my performance. Failures were always noticed and criticized. Achievements were rarely acknowledged. I have lived my life with a debilitating fear of failure. If I was uncertain if I would be able to learn to do something quickly and proficiently, I would not even try. Failure was not an option. It was too great a risk to try something I might not be good at, or even worse, FAIL in doing. And I have come to realize that my fear of failure is rooted in an intense fear of rejection and abandonment. The whys of that are for another time. What is relevant to me right now is that taking a step to lead this step study has been a huge risk. What if I FAIL? I have spent my life perfectly content to be in the background, on the sidelines, out of notice but also out of responsibility. Now, there are women looking to me to lead, to be an example for them to follow and learn from my experience, strength, and hope. Becoming a sponsor was terrifying. This is on a whole other level. What happens if I lose it? What happens if I fall apart? What kind of an example am I then?

The truth is, which I would tell any sponsee if she asked me the same questions, I WILL fail…in some things. I am NOT perfect… and that’s okay. In fact, I am incapable of being perfect. In recovery, relapse is not the end. All I need to do IF I relapse is go back to that first step. Choose again to admit that “I am powerless over my addictions and compulsive behaviors and that my life has become unmanageable”. The great news is that I have travelled this road before. The steps are familiar, and I know the way. I just need to release the control, “consciously choose to commit my life and my will over to Christ’s care and control”, and work the steps again…one at a time. I don’t know what the future of this step study holds for me. I don’t know what my next inventory will dig up. I do know a few things. There are a whole lot more positives on my inventory this time around. I have experienced healing and freedom from the pain of addiction before, and there is HOPE that I will do so again. Father hasn’t changed. He is the same God who took me through the pain of my sexual abuse and equipped me to truly forgive my perpetrator. He is the same God now who can heal the wounds of emotional abuse and neglect and be the constant and unconditionally loving parent that I lacked. And IF I fail, as long as I don’t give up, as long as I start with that first step again and keep taking one step at a time, I am not a FAILURE. The road to recovery is full of starts, stops, rabbit trails, resting, sitting down by the road, going back to the beginning, but still moving in a forward direction. Recovery is “Progress, not perfection”. And no matter which way this goes, I know my experience will still be able to help and encourage others along the road.

Keep walking.

Who Am I?

It never ceases to amaze me the contemplation that often arises for me from the fanfiction I read. Maybe it is because I am drawn to fiction about the broken characters with whom I relate in entertainment media, whether it be literary, television, or film. After a long stint in Star Wars (Reylo stan, that I am), I have returned to Sherlock and my beloved Sherlolly ship. I have been reading a two-parter by LaMorenaReina on AO3 entitled, “Molly Hooper, The Reigning Queen” (I want to give her the credit she is due), a post-TFP fic where Molly spent time finding herself after she realized that she had completely lost who she was in loving Sherlock. After their friendship is restored, Sherlock expressed how he felt like he had reached a “crisis of identity” where he is struggling to figure out what is truly him, and what is the persona he had put on for self-protection. Molly acknowledged that she understood, and that it was “scary and frustrating”. I have been processing a conversation I had with my sponsor the other day about how IMPERATIVE (she usually emphasizes that word) it is for me to find out what I like and who I am, and it suddenly dawned on me that this is exactly where I am.

I keep thinking back to a conversation I had with a family member who told me that I was starting to “rediscover” that strong, independent, happy child she remembered as a toddler, and I was dumbfounded because she was describing me as a person I do not remember. I still struggle so much to see myself as someone who is not weak, scared, and unwanted. Yet, if the perfect storm of situations in which I have found myself the past few months have proven anything to me, it is definitely that I am NOT weak. I have discovered many things about myself over the past three months; I am stronger, wiser, and more capable than I ever thought I could be. So, what do I do with this influx of new information about myself? How do I let go of this view of me I have had for almost four decades in the face of such contradictory evidence? I have this real fear I do not know myself at all. To what level, in my desire to be known and accepted and loved by others, did I give up my own personhood?

To be continued …