So much is different in my life today; it is hard to imagine that less than two months ago I was a homeless addict struggling just to get enough drugs to keep me from going into withdrawl. I couldn’t even worry about where I would sleep at night until I got a fix to keep me going. And the places I stayed and the people with whom I associated…well, they were bad enough that even I can barely believe they were a part of my life.
Now, I’m sitting in a lovely house in a nice part of town, resting in a comfortable recliner. I have a laptop computer on which I am typing, and my aunt and uncle are sitting quietly on their sofa across the room. My aunt has her cat on her lap and is reading while my uncle works on his computer. It is such a peaceful and domestic scene that I am almost overwhelmed with gratitude. Without them, none of this would have been possible.
Not only do I find myself in a scene of simple, contented relaxation, I also find myself more physically healthy than I have been in probably 5 years, and in addition to that I feel like my emotional and spiritual health has been progressing at a rate I never thought possible.
But I’ve been here before. Or at least, I have thought I was here in the past. Looking back over the last five years I can see a clear pattern of behavior that goes something like this:
Nathan makes poor decisions. He is using drugs. His life gets worse and worse as he alienates people, squanders his resources (and often those of others), lies, cheats, steals, and generally destroys himself (and anyone dumb enough to be nearby). A crisis occurs. Sometimes it is his physical health, sometimes mental health, and sometimes it is just that he gets caught red handed by someone who cares enough to want to help. Given a choice between death/insanity/abandonment or rehab/treatment – Nathan chooses to try and get well. He starts to improve and he gets out of treatment with firm resolve to do things right this time. And for a while, he does. Two weeks, a month, even several months go by. Then life steps back in. He slowly gives up the routine things that he knows are helping him stay on track. And still, he does alright. But then all of a sudden he is alone and unarmed against the enemy (which is, unfortunately, his own mind). A crisis comes, or perhaps merely the perception of crisis. Nathan thinks, “wow, this is horrible, and I know what I could do to make me feel better….”. Yeah, you guessed it. And now, because he has let all of his defenses fall into disrepair, that thought goes straight into action and the next thing Nathan knows, he is back at the beginning of the cycle.
So here’s what is on my mind right now as I sit in gratitude for the support of my family and the opportunity to pursue this amazing quest for optimum wellness: what can I do to keep myself in this new reality rather than returning to the old one described above?
I am naturally a person who likes some variety to life. I do value consistency, but I often have not exhibited consistency in my behavior. Right now I think the answer to my question is just that, consistency. I have found a routine in the past two weeks that is not just maintaining my health but improving it in a visible way. I MUST stick with this routine.
I also need to keep improving it and adding new things to it as I get stronger and healthier and able to handle more. I know that the two biggest pitfalls for me are stress and boredom. Sounds kinda contradictory huh? That’s why I know I need to move slowly and intentionally. I can’t just rush into things and make enormous commitments that I can’t handle. And when/if I bite off more than I can chew, I need to be man enough to speak up and say, “hey, I’m overwhelmed, I need some help!”. If I can make balance a priority then I think I can maintain the progress I have been making since I began this quest.
So ends the practical portion of this post.
Now for the conceptual:
I think every moment in each day of my life is like a step in an immensely complex dance. I don’t know who the choreographer is, and the stage is the infinite universe. I may not be able to see what is coming next, or when the people who dance with me will enter or exit, but at times when I give myself fully to the movement I can hear the music to which I dance.
And that faint melody gives me hope.