Memories: those fleeting flashes of moments past, echoes of laughter, images of things seemingly banal to some, but meaningful to you and inadvertently stuck to your subconscious. While they are impermanent in their recollection, they seem permanent in their reverb of consciousness; in many ways, they are mere shadows.
Dealing with memories can be a challenge, particularly in recovery. There are surely moments where unpleasant memories will creep into our present, possibly triggering old traumas, or reminding us how different things once were. Memories can also remind us of the way things have changed, how others have “moved on,” or how different our present is and how much we have evolved. This time of year and the implied imperative for togetherness carries the potentiality of triggering all of the above and more. It also presents an opportunity to view these memories and experiences from the lens of recovery and healing.
As the holiday weekend comes to a close, it’s important we remember to honor who we have become. Hopefully, we aren’t the people we once were, but instead, changed beings, newly synergistic with our surroundings. Surely, we will inevitably encounter varying personalities within the confines of our family dynamics, but those differences don’t have to determine our ultimate experience. Nor to they have to represent a means of castigation from the family at large. As I said in my previous post, “It’s not our job to eliminate someone else’s resentment, but rather to take responsibility for our own causative actions.” In truth, how we respond to discord is going to be essential in determining our enjoyment and reintegration.
I recently stated I was choosing to be present this Thanksgiving, and I was, just as I had planned to be. Being in the moment, however, wasn’t always easy or pleasant, though. As prepared as I was (in true form, I had a pretty well-laid out plan.), it still stung. The reality is, the heart often has expectations the head doesn’t plan for. Still, regardless of the sting inflicted by others, my call to action was to remain non-reactive, which I maintained. I’d carved out a safe space in which frustration could flow when necessary; I was fortunate to be able to retain my sense of humor; More than anything, I was fortunate to have my recovery and the foundation of healing and support it brings. Without that, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish anything useful. Family dynamics are tough, even in “normal” families. But in families who’ve been touched by dysfunction, mental-health issues, and addiction, the road to “normalcy” can feel Sisyphean.
Hopefully, we now have the clarity to ask ourselves: Are we a part of the problem or do we stand apart from it? Are our words and actions helpful or harmful? Do we treat others the way we want to be treated, even when there is no reciprocation? Are we remembering to breathe?
This holiday season, the goal is to continue to stay in the moment, one breath at a time. Are you with me?