‘”Tis a lesson you should heed, try, try again. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. Then your courage should appear, for if you will persevere, you will conquer, never fear, try, try, try again…” -from A Selection of Hymns and Poetry for the Use of Infant Schools and Nurseries, 1838
They say that the third time’s a charm, but I say whichever time you nailed the landing, confronted the bully, faced your fear or found the missing piece that tied it all together and you did it is the charm. Some of us can do it in one take and those are some rare creatures, to be sure, especially if the “it” is dealing with the monstrous thing that is mental health, addiction, self-care (without feeling selfish), shame, family history, experiences and all the other dragons, big and small, that are attacking our kingdom, our castle and our most precious treasure, our sanity. The majority of us require more than one take; we learn, we try, we fall, we get back up and we learn from that fall. We take that knowledge into the next take and what we have learned about our past attempt from what worked and what didn’t, as well as what is happening behind the scenes, under the hood? Is the internal dialogue supporting or undermining the external dialogue? Are we romanticizing our addiction or minimizing the level of destruction that has descended upon us and the innocent loved ones caught in the crossfire? How many lost opportunities and experiences can be chalked up to Addiction? How much pain caused by unhealed, unresolved, unshared experiences that are the rocket fuel that feeds the inferno of our addiction? How many boulders of shame bend the shoulders of those who have carried it for a lifetime, with no one to tell them they can set it down, straighten their aching spine and walk away from it?
The fear of feeling those feelings is greater than the discomfort of carrying the boulder, so we carry on. The longer we carry and shuffle painfully through life, the more it becomes normal. We see others walking around, upright and pain-free and wish we could be like them; we think they are living a charmed life, free of pain and boulders and shame. We don’t know that they were once exactly like we are now, struggling daily, but ignorant of the way to change. They simply reached out, asked for help and were willing to do their part when a rope was thrown to them. They did the hard work, they cried and raged and wept until they felt as though their soul had left their body and came back to them, cleansed and fresh. They fought the urges, the voice telling them they couldn’t live without their crutch and feeling their feelings would shatter them into a million tiny shards of glass, never to be whole again. Of course, these are lies that Addiction loves to tell; to keep you believing you have no power. The truth is, so long as you worship and look to that substance/behavior/person to feel or not feel, you are truly powerless. Admitting it is often the hardest part, but it is the beginning.
There is no limit to the amount of times you can begin again. I have done this three times previously with the last excursion being 2016, two years before I “retired”. I learned a great deal then and even though things have changed since then, I know that I will learn this time, too. I can’t expect anyone else to heal me, to love me enough to make up for the fact that I (for a long time) believed I was unworthy of loved and unlovable. I have to heal myself and others can support me in that and give me perspective that I don’t have; but ultimately, my success or my continued learning (some call it failure) is up to me because –
I AM THE ONLY PERSON I KNOW FOR CERTAIN I WILL SPEND EVERY SINGLE MINUTE OF EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE WITH.
Yep, that’s right. Such a simple statement but so profound.
In closing, I would like to say that addiction is a disease, just like cancer. If you were to undergo treatment for cancer, you would do all the treatments as many times as it took to rid yourself of the cancer. You wouldn’t do one round of chemo and call it a day, right? It is the same principle with any illness; you get treatment to get well. If you are unwell, you seek treatment, whatever ails you and whatever treatment is what will heal you.
Now treatment doesn’t have to be going to a program or going to a regular doctor; there are many forms of medicine and many methods to heal and repair this amazing complex creation known as human being. Seek out what speaks to you; if you wish to be healed by water, seek out a quiet lake or a roaring river. If you wish to let Mother Nature heal your mind and body, consider forest bathing. If travel is your magic elixir, call me! We’ll go together. Whatever you need to do to heal, you must find it. Whatever you can do to make your journey better for you, specifically, grab that. That person who is your rock, your strength and your North Star – let them know your plan and they will be there for you just like they were there for you when you were unwell.
Ask and you shall receive.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of wisdom, grace and a soul in pain wanting to find peace. There are many hands and hearts out there, open and ready to share the burden for a time, walk with you in your darkest hours and celebrate in joy with tears of happiness when you succeed.
You are worth every effort you put forth and you are only as sick as your secrets.
So spill, honey.
Let the healing begin.
If you or a family member is seeking help with mental illness, National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) is a fantastic resource: https://nami.org/Home
Alcoholics Anonymous: https://www.aa.org
Lifering Secular Recovery: https://lifering.org