Recovery is learning to be gentle with ourselves when we would rather take our selves head into the back alley and curb-stomp the stupidity out of our wretched, foolish selves. Recovery is both grace and it is also work.
Grace is a gift: you can do the work of recovery and refuse the grace. Or you can accept the grace, but reject the work that recovery asks of you. If you embrace the work but reject grace, you are like a dancer who works so hard that they lose their joy and the dancing is little more than a day job. And grace without the work will leave you stunted and emotionally immature in your recovery.
To stay with the metaphor, the work of recovery is like a dancer who prepares, moves with grace and then readies for the next dance. First you prepare, then you move with your grace, and then you ready yourself for the next dance:
- Prepare – You prepare by examining your motives, your thinking, your mis/takes, your losses, your triggers and your responses.
- Move with Grace – The work of recovery is a dance where grace is worked into your stiffened joints and wooden movements. Over time, you being to move easier and act like you belong.
- Ready – Recovery, like dancing, is one day at a time. You cannot complete two dances at once, and you cannot take on two days at a time. Finishing your work today will set you up for whatever work you have for tomorrow.
The grace of recovery is learning to accept yourself, believing you are worthy of happiness and good things, seeing both the good along with the shadow within you, and learning that your story is constantly being retold. Your story is not like the ten commandments, written in stone. Your story is made of breath and experience and dreams. Your story moves, just like the grace of the dance floor. Your story will change as you accept grace: by slowing down to breathe, being open to your experience, reflecting on your values and recognizing the good within you.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…” Theodore Roosevelt
“It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. Margery Williams
For recovery to work, you need to give yourself to both the work of grace and to the grace of the work. For me, writing is one way that grace enters and re-enters my experience.
- Writing is work: It involves daily effort, gathering, persistence, vision, clarity, honesty, and editing.
- And writing also gives grace: I am reminded to slow down, to breathe, to accept, to forgive, to allow messy first drafts, and to surround myself with like-minded souls.
For me, the work of my writing is the work of my recovery. Writing is a huge part of my recovery, my health and who I have become. Writing has helped to pull me out of darkness and it has lit a fire inside. Writing is part of my dance. What is yours? What helps you to embrace the grace of your recovery?
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Keep it Real