Through the Uncertainty
During recovery, you sort of fall into a comfortable, yet responsibility-deflecting routine....your meal plan is concrete, making the decisions for you. You eat all that is staring back at you on the plate. There is only one option, one path guaranteed to lead you to the right destination. There is a sort of warmth created by this predetermination. For once, the burden of potentially doing the wrong thing does not fall on your shoulders. At treatment, you are provided nourishment as if you were once again a child, the warm hand of a mother making all the tough choices. And because of this, you begin to feel those old senses of dependence, irresponsibility, and outward reliance festering.
It was like this for me for awhile....maybe it even still is. A meal plan, with specific measurements as to denote subjectivity, was laid out for me. The correct portions to ensure my utmost well-being were handed to me. Everyday, I ate the same breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and dessert. I stuck to what I knew would cause me the least anxiety, even if that meant falling into an inflexible, poisonous rut. And with these repeated meals, I did fine, succeeded with flying colors even. I had no undying thoughts telling me that I took too much chocolate or too much rice—based on the countless days that passed, I knew I was doing exactly what I was supposed to....no more, but at least no less.
Certainty: a seemingly harmless, yet characteristically toxic force. Certainty is like living in a protective bubble, shielded from the fact that life, at it's very core, is unpredictable. Certainty is a delusion, leading you to believe that the future can be an engraved Rosetta Stone. Certainty, although it may make you feel safe and secure at the moment, will only hinder your path towards progression and self-growth. If you are fine with living life in a recovery bubble, physically and mentally confined from the dynamics and problems of the real world, you are inadvertently hurting yourself.
When I fell into the same food routine, I thought I was completely fine and past the rough waves into calmer waters. What I didn't realize was that I was only fine with this well-known routine and not any other. The second change and the concomitant doubt was added to the mixture, I faltered. When I had to make decisions with options I was not yet accustomed to, I panicked, and that voice—that horrible voice of Ana—began to ring in my mind. Inside the bubble, I was fine....but outside, where strength really mattered, I wasn't.
For me while I am in recovery, going on vacation can feel almost as nerve-wrecking as it is fun and exciting. For me while I am in recovery, going on vacation does not only mean leaving home behind, but also the environment in which I am most successful at silencing the negative thoughts. For me, a vacation is a test irrevocably, to determine whether I can thrive outside the bubble, in the midst of unfamiliarity. I have to eat out at every meal, trying to stick to my plan while Ana keeps whispering to do a little less than I know I should. Just like performing live is much harder (and much more genuine) than recording in the studio, maintaining recovery in new situations takes a lot more effort and is a lot more pressure than doing so at home. However, singing awe-inspiring vocals live, flourishing and keeping a healthy outlook in a foreign setting, is far more rewarding because it is the real thing. It is the victory that really matters, that truly signifies your skill and progress. Writing this on my flight home from Greece, I can testify to the incomparable pride that comes with knowing I can take steps forward on my recovery journey outside of home, where obstacles pop up spontaneously and unexpectedly.
Thus, to those in recovery, be careful of falling into a comfortable, yet closed-minded routine. Mix up your meals daily, challenge yourself as much as you think you can handle, and stimulate the real-world setting—with its constant twists and turns—even under your own roof. Through the uncertainty, we must beat on, not allowing the winds of change to blow away our future prospects. Through the uncertainty, we must and we will show fortitude.