The Leap of Faith

You know how a friend will tell you she just ate something that you’ve never heard of before, then the next day you will see an ad for that same product, then the next day that product will jump off the shelf at you in the grocery store?  Then you figure with that many signs, surely you were meant to try it?

Well, that’s what’s been happening with me lately regarding the ways in which negative self-talk, a lack of self-worth, and harsh self-judgment can be damaging.  I won’t bore you with the details, except to say:  something in the Universe wants me to look at this issue.

And I’m fighting it.  A lot.  And it is so reminiscent of early recovery that I figured I’d write about it here.

So here’s just one example, I could give you a dozen, just from the last week alone.  I am talking to my therapist about some self-directed frustration I am experiencing, and as an exercise she forces me to look at the opposite side of the coin, and list out the things I am doing well.  I resist this exercise with an energy I am not used to feeling, but my people-pleasing ways win out over my stubborn ways, and I do as she asks.  But I do it while rolling my eyes, and ready and waiting to argue my counter points, confident that I will win her over to my side.

And my side is to criticize me.

Silly, illogical thinking, but as much as I cringe at that last paragraph, I can’t take it back, because it’s the truth.

The session goes on from there, and I am forced to admit that perhaps I am a bit hard on myself, but I want to tie this back into recovery.  Believe it or not it does intersect.

I remember, very clearly, my mindset those first few 12-step meetings.  Yes, I knew logically that I had an issue with which I had to deal.  Yes, some of what I was hearing in those meetings made some sense.  Craziest still, yes, these people seem to be very comfortable in these meetings, they seemed very happy (almost suspiciously so, my critical mind judged) and, if they are to be believed, voluntarily come back to this forum years after the problem has been solved.

I sat in that position, showing up, listening, speaking when forced, for a long time.  At no point did I let go of my cynicism, and at no point did my critical mind stop judging.

And at no point during that time period did I stop relapsing.

So last week, when my therapist said to me, “At some point, Josie, you need to trust the process, because really this entire thing is a leap of faith,” I was immediately transported to that moment in time.  I was on my knees, in the dark, praying as I had never prayed before.  And when the critical voice showed up to say, “Puh-lease!  You’ve tried this a hundred and one times, why would this be any different?”  I didn’t agree or disagree, I kept on praying.

And when somebody suggested going to a meeting every day, and the critic showed up to say, “Do you know how many meetings you sat in and then went out and relapsed?”  I didn’t agree or disagree, I just kept on showing up.

And when I was told to chair my first meeting, share my personal story, sit down one-on-one with another woman to go through the steps, I did it.  I had no idea if the process would be effective long-term or not, I had no basis of comparison really, so I need to take the leap of faith, and I needed to trust the process.

And boy, oh boy, 3 years later, I am so grateful I did.

So I guess it’s time to trust the process again, and start talking back to the critical voice.  Here’s hoping the results are as miraculous as the last time.

Today’s Miracle:

The miracle of the normal school day schedule.  This will be going away very soon, and so I must, with mindfulness, feel the pleasure of routine while it exists!

Posted on June 5, 2015, in Intermediate Recovery, Recovery, Self-Care and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I agree completely! That critical self-talk can be brutal, can’t it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The universe is too funny. I just got the exact same advice from my weight loss coach. Relax and trust the process is actually written on my action plan! Then I blogged on my weight loss blog about my negative self talk. (not everyone is saying omg look at her huge butt when I walk lol) We truly do know this stuff, but why is it so hard to do?!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Josie, thanks very much for sharing. I agree completely and totally on trusting the process. That truth is sum total of my experience in recovery. And that self-critical voice is always there, but is lessened through time.

    Here is an example – I vividly recall being 7 years sober, driving across the flat lands of Indiana to Champaign-Urbana Illinois where I had been accepted with full funding into the PhD program at the U of I. I had all of these voices in my head telling me that I would fail, who was I trying to fool, etc. etc. The fact is that once sober, and going back to finish my B.A. after a gap of 15 years, I had done incredibly well – actually raised my pre-sobriety GPA of 0.7 to a 3.6 by the time I graduated. I did very well in my MA program too with a solid 4.0 GPA and strong letters of recommendation. I also had a dissertation proposal put together before even entering the U of I program. But I had that voice in my head saying I was just pulling off another con and that I would fail – but I did not.

    At a certain point, I began to recognize that the self-doubt and self-loathing would in fact pass in any given situation. Part of that I think is just building up a track record to make the counter argument. The fact is, when I first got sober, there really was not much evidence to argue against the inner voices – other than the leap of faith.

    About 15 years ago I began to do this reflection where I considered projecting back say a 2 or 3 year period and reflect on whether I could predict my current circumstance back then. The answer is always no. So, I can look back over a bunch of years of sobriety and say that at all of those intervals along the way, I could never predict where I am at today, but it is always good. Five years ago I had never been to Peru, but now I am traveling there every summer and the work will be a big part of my post-retirement life come July 1, 2016. Five years ago my wife and I were not really certain what our retirement might look like, but we now have a house in New Orleans and she has opened a Needle and CraftWorks shop on Magazine St. As I sit here today, I cannot imagine a more “perfect” situation for both of us, but I could not have predicted this in the past – but we were both open to possibilities.

    That is what I have learned, to trust the process. I don’t know what the future will bring, but by trusting the process, putting one foot in front of the other and doing the next indicated thing, life continues on a good path. Based on all evidence from my sobriety to date, then the future should also be exciting and filled with meaning. That is no longer a leap of faith but based on the examination of the existing data of my sobriety to date, as it were. And that includes allowances for walking out in front of bus and dying tomorrow, and all of the other tragedies that could occur.

    I will also add, that about five years ago, my self-doubt and loathing voice was lessened tremendously. I know that a good bit of that is just the time that the process needs to unfold – but it was also marked by a firm decision to be more actively engaged in living into my true self and not what others told me I should be doing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As always, Robert, you humble me with your wisdom, and generosity in sharing it with me (us)!

      I love every word that you said here, but I will absolutely, positively take with me the exercise in imagining if I could have predicted the present. As I do it right now, the answer is a huge NO WAY! That exercise fills me with such hope even in the few moments I took to practice it.

      I also like the hope you provide that lessening the critical voice is possible, even probable. It is my new focus, and the knowledge that you have gone before me in this endeavor strengthens my resolve.

      I wish you an early congratulations on your retirement, I can’t wait to read all about the celebration.

      A million thanks, Robert, you inspire me so much with your message of hope!

      Like

  4. “One foot in front of the other” – I remember being told that and just not getting it. Now I tell others and can see they just don’t understand either. But those that just do then seem to go through something and do indeed get it

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hate to admit this, but I’m kind of not getting it myself. I remember truly not getting it in early sobriety, but then feeling that relief when I was able to wrap my head around it. But in this new endeavor, the endeavor of self-acceptance, I find myself in a position similar to that of early sobriety, in that “wtf?” state. I suppose the difference is that I have the experience of recovery upon which to draw, and of course the wisdom of people like yourself who so generously share with me. Thank you so much for this comment!

      Like

  5. Here is my free 2 cents.
    I like the 12 steps. I like listening to people in meetings share about honesty and truth.
    I don’t like the self criticism I hear there. And I feel like some of the language of Aa encourages it.

    Aside from Brene brown, who I can’t recommend enough, Louise Hay truly understands this.
    Looking in the mirror and telling yourself you love you. You accept you. You think you are awesome. Is not easy.

    It took me a long time. But I can look in the mirror now, smile and love that me!

    When I say holding out your hand is so much more powerful that posting your finger, i believe it starts with myself. I have to be able to feel that deep unconditional self acceptance and love for me. Then I can reach out to others with that same love and kindness.
    Being gentle and compassionate with ourselves is how we are meant to be. Inside we all have a little girl or boy who wants to be held and loved. Maybe we didn’t feel it when we were a child. But we can offer it to ourselves now.

    Your are a special, whole, perfect person. Just as you are. So am I.

    Anne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anne, sometimes I write a post, then hold my breath waiting for one of your insightful comments, this is one of those times. And I read your comment and exhale a sigh of relief!

      You have mentioned Louise Hay before, I need to check her out, because I am unfamiliar. Brene Brown is an excellent choice, as my “breakthrough” moment in this week’s session was centered around shame, and I know that is her area of expertise.

      I love the expansion you provide… that accepting and loving myself will lead to a greater acceptance and love of and for others. That is truly beautiful!

      Thanks, as always, for your support, Anne!

      Like

  6. Untipsyteacher

    Dear Josie,
    I am listening to my therapist, too.
    She has been helping me on these issues.
    I really have to trust that I will finally grow into a place of self-compassion.
    You have gifts to give!
    Gifts of love and kindness!
    The gift of words to help people!
    Hugs to you, dear lady!
    xo
    Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

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