Supporting the Journey of Family Recovery
When I speak with families, one of the hardest concepts to express is the importance of living in the present.
It can seem dismissive to ask someone to leave the past where it belongs. The "what ifs..." and "If only I had..." haunt family members as they look back to how things could be different-if only... Sometimes sitting here allows us the space to place blame on circumstances or individuals for the situation that we are in today. That can provide comfort by giving the impression that there is a reason, and that reason is not us.
The problem with remaining in this space is that you have no ability to actually go back and change what could have been. When I look back at possible events or individuals that created trauma and led my son down the road he took, there was a time when I found solace in being in that headspace. But the reality of allowing myself to remain there was hurting me-and ultimately hurting my relationship with my son.
On the other side, it can seem negative and hopeless to ask someone to not live in future expectations and desires. Some call this HOPE, and what do we have if not hope?
While hope for future change and success is a positive headspace to have, there are some inherent problems with living in the future as well.
Hope is based in idealism and can set us (and our loved one) up for defeat. A flexible mindset will allow us to embrace the Radical Acceptance of the reality in front of us with understanding and resilience, and allows us to optimize our current experience.
Hope also allows us to sit in a place of "wishing" for something rather than "working" towards something. It allows us to turn away from a growth mindset and forfeit our personal power and control over our own actions and growth.
And finally, living in a place of hope can actually set us up for feelings of hopelessness. When hope is repeatedly defeated, we become vulnerable to continually be placed in the feeling of hopelessness. Fail after fail of hopeful expectations robs us of the small relationship wins and moments of joy in front of us right now.
I frequently share that my moment of life change was when I believed that my son was not going to live much longer in his addiction. There was an impactful moment of clarity where I asked myself the question "Am I OK with the last thing that my son saw, felt and heard from me?"
In that moment, I realized that all I had was THIS moment. The first, most important and hardest step in my own recovery became living each moment in front of me with intention. I made an intentional decision that I would slow down and recognize as many moments of peace, joy and connection in my relationship that I could.
That was a hard realization because it required me to let go of my comfortable space of toggling between the blame of the past and the hope of an unknown future.
What did I gain? Today ❤️
As the year comes to an end, and the worries and stress over holidays weigh us down, I wish for you to find;
Peace in a quiet moment
Joy in an unexpected smile
Beauty in a sunrise
Connection in a soft touch