Friday, June 22, 2007

Getting Clear

"Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime's work, but it's worth the effort.
~from The World According to Mister Rogers

Trusting women in recovery is difficult for me. They make my spidy senses go into overdrive. I disclosed that bit of info voluntarily, near the end of my intake assessment interview yesterday, at the rehab centre. To a woman counselor.

As I was locking up my vehicle before I went into the center I had prayed for help to simply be honest. I reminded myself that this interview wasn't about trying to get the counselor to like me or any of the other things my mind can get wrapped up in when meeting someone for the first time(or second or third or every time, for that matter.) I just wanted the courage to be honest.

Then I walked into the waiting room and found a handful of women rehab employees standing there having a chat. As I told the secretary who I was there to see, my counselor stepped forward, introduced herself and off we went down that long hallway into never never land.

I felt scared. And vulnerable. Yesterday reminded me how much I dislike situations where I'm not in control. Where I'm not the one running the show. Where I don't know what is coming next. Yet it also reminded me that no matter what happens (and some awful things have happened in those circumstances) I will survive.

When I first went to the rehab center to inquire about treatment I was given a form to take home and fill in for this intake interview. I had to smile at the little amount of room given to answer such questions as "How have your actions/addictions affected your family, work, health, social life, etc?" Three tiny lines to answer that? One of my recovery friends laughed and told me to put, everyone, everywhere, all the time. I wanted to write a book for each answer.

Harder still was the questionnaire the counselor and I filled in together. She asked the questions and as I answered she filled in the forms. Questions about flashbacks and nightmares that prompted flashbacks all on their own. Having to list the specifics that prompted those. Questions about my sexual addiction. Questions about my food/body image issues and having to answer affirmative when she then asked if I would say I had an eating disorder.

The worst was at the end when she was sharing with me what she had written down as the issues she felt I needed to address while in treatment. I could handle all she listed and even added a few of my own. What nearly did me in though was when she said that because of the sexual abuse issues I had disclosed she was adding a session with the grief/loss counselor. In an instant I felt grief rising in my throat, up to my eyes and my whole body felt sad. She told me in that class I would work on a collage. In my mind I saw myself laying down my head on top of a half finished collage and sobbing. The best I could do yesterday was look her in the eyes as she spoke and let her see the sadness there.

Today I was planning to go with a recovery friend to a grad ceremony at the rehab center. She knew someone who was graduating and thought I'd like to see what happened. Last night I told my sponsor that my only reason for going to the grad ceremony was so that I would have one situation where I had a heads up. Then I told her what I really wanted to do was take a notebook and quiz the new grad about every minute of her last 20 days so that I would know what to expect. She replied with this "Ohhhhh..." that said so much. Then she graciously told me about her stay there many years ago. That her bags were searched upon check in, how that felt and a few other tidbits of information. It wasn't a play by play of the whole shebang but enough of a taste to reassure me that I would be okay. She reminded me several times that every person there was just like me and her.

This week I read a book by Anne Wilson Schaef called Living in Process. I found it very much a "take what you like and leave the rest" kind of book and the bits I took with me are gems. This one resonated with me:
"Sometimes, all we need is the willingness and our inner process will do the rest. Yet, willingness is not just an act of the will. It is much deeper than that. By willingness, I mean an openness to face courageously whatever we need to face to take the next step in our journey.Often, our fear is so overwhelming that we're afraid that we won't be able to handle the information we learn about ourselves. Yet, in the end, all of this information is inside of us and it's our information. Getting clear about it, whatever it is, and working through the healing is what life is about. I find that it is often our mind and our thinking about horrible illusions that make our healing difficult, not our reality. Ironically, as we truly probe deep within ourselves and face our learnings, we find that our connection with our spirituality gets stronger and stronger, and we find we have the immeasurable support and caring to do whatever we need to heal."(emphasis added)
I'm not much of a risk taker. I much prefer the predictable. Yet even though I feel scared and vulnerable about going into treatment, I also have a willingness to take this next step. I thank God for that.

After my intake interview I went to the doctor to get more injections in my shoulders. At one excruciating point in the process I said outloud, "Breathe Hope, breathe." My doctor smiled and told me if I didn't remember to, my body would eventually.
Prophetic words those ones.


Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of a book I read many years ago called Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Don't remember much detail but I do remember that at one point, one of the characters asks another what he would say to Atlas if it was obvious that he (Atlas) could no longer hold up the world. The 2nd character said that he would tell Atlas to shrug it off and set it down.

More and more, as I get older, it feels as though many of us (maybe even all of us) are struggling to hold up a world that we've played some part in creating and we're afraid to simply set it down. I'm reaching that point where I'm physically feeling the exhaustion of the struggle. Hope, I think you're taking that brave step to let it go.

I think Fred Rogers is right; it's worth the effort.

Hope said...


It's the scariest thing in the world to take this step. But I want what I see others have at the meetings I go to and know I don't have it. I've had glimpses here and there of what it's like but nothing more than that.

It is worth the effort. Otherwise I'd be drunk tomorrow.


Will said...

Hope, you are very much in my prayers. As a victim of sexual abuse myself, it took me years to be able to talk about it with anyone, and years more to really come to grips with how it had affected my life. That journey, though long and difficult, was, and is, essential and beneficial.

bobbie said...

i love the way you processed this - it's heartfelt, transparent and beautiful. your courage encourages me. i am so proud of you and to be on this journey with you.

that quote was amazing and astounding that we forget that all of the things that we are learning are our's already. thank you for the reminder!

love you woman!

daisymarie said...

You inspire me. You are so amazingly courageous. I truly treasure your honesty.

Anonymous said...

"It is worth the effort. Otherwise I'd be drunk tomorrow."
I hear ya, Hope. And I believe you when you say that it is the scariest step to take.