To Do or Be

By Deborah Train

Who are you? Our identity can easily get enmeshed with what we do for a living, who we are related to or what we have done in the past. But that really isn’t who we are, thank goodness, because careers, jobs, relationships and accomplishments come and go.
Who we are is the inspiration that flows from our value base and serves as a catalyst for making decisions in our lives.

When we are unclear about our personal values, then we may be prone to subscribing to someone else’s. Even cultural values are questionable, so it’s best to truly know what drives us and strive to be as authentic as we possibly can, whether others like it or not. We each have a unique potential of possibilities. It isn’t about what we do, it is who we are being in the world and how we are doing the doing.

After having some success with physical recovery managing or abstaining from whatever substance or behavior is causing negative consequences or feelings, many of us logically want to go about the business of putting our lives back together again, as quickly as possible.
Fixing all of the physical and tangible aspects of life may come easy for some. No matter how it looks on the outside, it really is about how we feel on the inside. That is our personal barometer.

Early recovery can be challenging and for many, finding a job, going back to school or maintaining healthy relationships may not be so simple. Jumping in too soon could mean sabotaging our recovery if we are not clear and honest with ourselves about what our intentions are.
This is where it’s important not to compare ourselves, our progress and our lives with anyone else’s.

Are we listening to what others tell us what we should do? Are we using work as a socially acceptable way to avoid practicing stillness and self-awareness? My mother explained it best: even if we can’t see it, there’s some healing time needed and how much time is needed depends on the individual.

Underneath our physical addictions, there may be some causes and conditions that held us hostage to our addictive behaviors. If we are still making choices with the same set of limiting beliefs — like people pleasing, trying to get good enough, smart enough, or rich enough — then we may be underminding the potential for a truly beautiful existence - one that includes self-love and clarity about our authenticity and intentions.

I learned the hard way that I couldn’t recover on my own and had made a decision that I was going to jump into my recovery with both feet and not take any shortcuts. I had no idea about the inner manifestations of low self-worth, self-esteem, perfectionism, shame and denial, just to name a few. I knew about self-will and I knew I needed you to be happy in order for me to feel worthwhile.

I signed up for college courses in my first year of sobriety and ended up having to drop all three. It was a wake-up call and a humbling experience, but what it showed me is how fragile my heart, mind and soul really were. I, for one, could not balance this commitment in early recovery without jeopardizing my state of wellbeing. I became overwhelmed and anxious, every day.

It was in my third year of recovery that I was able to take a class, to test the waters, and passed with flying colors. By then I was also clearer about who I was becoming and what I truly wanted to do with my life.

If someone breaks a leg, we’re not going to tell them to start training for a marathon.

In 1990, when I was getting sober, I thought I was pretty smart. I was going to tackle this recovery and put Humpty Dumpty back together again and I was going to do it quicker and better than anyone else. I can see now that I had something to prove.

Higher education became an esteem builder because I had practiced, one day at a time, living a life of recovery that included a foundation of selfanalysis and self-discovery. Unearthing my liabilities and assets, and having a solid foundation and support structure in place ensured that the challenges ahead would be viewed as an exciting adventure rather than an arduous task.

I received an honorary Student Teacher of the Year Award and graduated summa cum laude, not without the fear, but with enough recovery and support to move successfully forward, at my own pace.

Having patience for ourselves, reprogramming negative self-beliefs and eliminating self-criticism takes love and patience from ourselves, and we have to make sure we surround ourselves with supportive people. Life doesn’t have to be the school of hard knocks. The clearer we are about our motives and intentions, the more opportunity we have to move toward our authentic selves. And that is truly what the world needs.

 

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