“An hour?! You’re kidding me?”
I did my best to get comfortable. I was laying on a yoga mat with one of those airline pillows supporting my neck, a pillow under my knees, and a large fleece blanket covering my shoe-less feet. I looked around the room and watched everyone doing the same.
With five years of recovery I would rate my open-mindedness as very high. Despite that, I was straining to accept how I could keep this pace of breathing up for a friggin' hour.
“Is there anyone NOT okay with me touching them?” asked Doc as he seemingly hovered around the room.
The facilitator was a psychologist wearing an aloha shirt, also shoeless and covered with prayer beads. He certainly looked the part for what was about to happen, whatever that was.
“What!? Why does this dude need to touch us?”
He flicked out the lights and started the music. He walked around and set everyone on pace with breaths of his own for an example.
“NO WAY. How am I supposed to relax with the music this loud? How could I possibly keep up this pace of deep breathing for an entire hour?!”
I continued to keep an open mind. I’ll tell you what though, it was really tough. I meditate each day, and this was NOTHING like what I had built into my morning routine. It’s not that I was scared something bad was going to happen, it’s that I thought nothing was going to happen at all. I was battling the idea that this was going to be a complete waste of my time.
I’ll spare you the boring details. About half way into the deep breathing exercise I fell into an easy rhythm. As the music shifted so did my awareness. I began thinking about my life before and after sobriety. I thought about the people that I loved and lost. As the tears welled up in the corner of my eyes, I felt Doc place his hands on my head and my heart. He pressed down firmly for a few seconds and walked away.
I was overcome with emotion. I continued breathing on pace as tears rolled down my cheeks. Thoughts and memories poured into my consciousness that I had buried down deep inside.
It was by far one of the most enlightening therapeutic events of my recovery. With a blanket over my shoulders, and in a total daze, I joined the group to process what had just happened. I was shocked. Others had shared experiences similar to mine, some not at all. I struggled to share my experience, crying once more as I tried to verbalize what had occurred.
I became aware of a dangerous core belief of mine, one that probably fueled my addiction for a very long time. It surfaced during my breath work like a cold chill. I am not good enough and I will never be accepted, I am lost. This coupled with memories of my amazing uncle who killed himself years before. He had lost his battle with addiction and mental illness. I always thought his spirit shone more brightly than others, but the world was never given enough of Uncle Russ.
For me, just having an awareness around something you’ve never been aware off makes all the difference in the world.
I sat on the floor among strangers, pouring out my soul. In that moment I knew that I was enough. I was accepted. I knew God had led me to this moment and that with him I could never be lost. I knew Uncle Russ had given me the greatest gift of all, to never take myself too seriously.
I guess the message here is that my work in recovery is never finished. Every great thing that has happened to me in recovery started with fear and trepidation.
I often say to the guys I work with, “I don’t always want to use the tools of recovery, but I never want to lose the gifts given to me as a result.”
In recovery you see tons of people leave before you even get a chance to know them. Big change can be scary and most people are too consumed by fear to move through it. Therein lays the rub. Always push forward. TRUDGE. Early recovery doesn’t always yield short term results. Some get lucky but most people in recovery have to stick around awhile before real change starts to manifest in their lives. Most people leave before the miracle ever happens.
Having an open mind and willingness to experience new things (all in good time) is perhaps the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
In the five years of my recovery some crazy things have happened in my life. Part of what kept my wheels spinning in addiction was that I thought I was living a life of adventure. But in recovery, when my wheels spin I actually go somewhere.
-Chris B - Admissions and Outreach at The Augustine Recovery Center