There will be times in our lives where we will feel overwhelmed. Angry. Sad. Disappointed. All facets of emotion with equal footing in the vastness of our human experience. More so than any year I can remember in my recovery, these troublesome and weary feelings have bubbled up to the surface. 2020 has been challenging, to say the least. The pandemic. The division sown among us. The ever-pervasive negativity of the 24/7 political news cycle. It all just compounds our normal feelings we experience on a day-to-day basis, and, unfortunately, magnifies some of our worst tendencies. I couldn’t even tell you how many minor inconveniences I’ve had that I’ve allowed to grow into seemingly insurmountable mountains of adversity. All of my own making of course. I’m here to tell you today, that it’s OK. It’s OK to feel your feelings. It’s acceptable to experience frustration and discomfort, especially now. Allowing yourself to have these experiences with “negative” emotions, walking through them, reaching out, and subsequently learning to live with them as they pop up are vital to our personal growth.
Since the inception of the written word, humans have documented, told stories, and related experiences of growth through personal suffering and adversity. That doesn’t strike me as coincidence. Throughout my own life, I’ve confronted seasons of loss, hardship, miserable depression, and incessant anxiety. I fruitlessly turned to substances as a means of coping with those tough times and was left with the ever-more pressing feeling of hopelessness. But I stand here today and can view those experiences through the lens of wisdom they gave me. Experiential growth on a personal level is worth its weight in gold. A wise person came to me during one of those times and imparted to me what I consider one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. “This isn’t forever. You aren’t going to feel this way forever.” This concept is so utterly simple, yet so poorly received and practiced among so many of us. The great lie that crushing anxiety and trouble sells you is that you will, indeed, always feel the way you do in that very moment. But as anyone who has walked through a difficult circumstance and made it through to the other side knows, this simply isn’t the case. Perspectives changes. What once may have seemed like the most miserable day of our lives could one day be seen as a singular moment: salvation, or a new beginning. The kicker here is that I seemingly couldn’t come to this conclusion on my own power. I needed outside help. I needed the insight and wisdom of someone else who had been where I was in that very moment and lived through it. And grew. I became better because of those feelings, and the struggles they presented. Many say God speaks through the lives of others, and in my ultimate moment of strife, fear, and hopelessness, this was proven to be true.
So, I implore you today, if you’re finding yourself in one of these very situations, hang on. Seek out guidance and wisdom from others who have come before you. Loved ones, counselors, friends, family, your pastor, whomever it may be; impart that pain into concise language and speak it out. Let somebody know. As much as it has pained me to reach out and ask for help historically, it has never left me worse for wear. Sometimes all we need is loving-kindness, guidance, or simply someone to sit with us exactly where we are in that painful moment. And that’s OK! I can’t stress this enough. We live in a culture that promotes self-sufficiency and reliance above all things. And while those principles aren’t inherently “bad” per se, anxiety and stress are created when we can’t live up to those expectations. Relax. Let it all out. Let go of the idea that we will be able to out-think or out-maneuver our own travails solo. The greatest movements of all time were built on the concepts of leaning on your fellow man, on God, and of reliance on your brothers and sisters to endure and survive.
While 2020 has certainly presented us all with our own personal challenges; so too could it be the beginning of a new movement. One of love. Of understanding, patience, kindness. Of fellowship. Of heartfelt, selfless concern for our fellow man. In times of such radical adversity, division, and loss, don’t leave yourself standing alone. Endure the hard times. Walk through with the guidance and safety of others, with God. Learn to live with those emotions; to fully experience them, to cope with them; don’t be swallowed by the bottomless pit of self-pity they falsely seem to create. In doing so, you enable yourself to continue the cycle of giving back, the movement, and to receive the wealth to be found in doing so that the material world could never promise you.
“Today might suck. Tomorrow might not. Only way to find out is to stick around and see what happens.”
Peace be with you,
Sean – In Recovery
You can read, comment and ask questions for Sean to address in his blog on the PAL website, home page – www.Palgroup.org