You’re down the rabbit hole, my friend. It happens to people every day in the world but it wasn’t supposed to happen to you, right? You’re walking around with a sadness right behind your eyes and your lips that once smiled…a lot. Shame, blame, guilt, rage, chaos, and fear have taken over your life. You’ve tried to reach out to people, but they just don’t get it. And part of why they don’t get it, is they’re not you. Plus, most of their lives seem to be going pretty great – they don’t even really have time for your problems or screw-ups because they’re stoked that they have things fairly together with their own relationships, families and careers. You’re not sure if you ever remember feeling this alone. Every day runs into the next – same, endless day of trying to make it through. You know you need help, but you don’t know where to go where it will actually make a difference. Plus, you don’t want anyone to say I told you so.
It’s painful, and you really, really don’t want to feel just how painful it is. So some days you call screw-it and some days you mean well, but you end up throwing in the flag anyway. You really don’t like who you’ve become. This (life) isn’t how you imagined it would be. And honestly, you’re angry as hell about it. But you’re also disappointed and you’re hurting and you know that none of this is working. What do you need to do to begin to make it work again? YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN.
THIS IS WHAT YOU DO
It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t believe. If you don’t believe, then whisper it to the carpet or tell it to your dog’s fur or let it dissolve into thin air. It doesn’t matter at this point – just do it. Right now, get on the floor on your knees and bend your head to the earth and you call out to your Creator. Guess what? You don’t need to explain everything. Guess what? You don’t need to hide anything. Guess what? Your Creator/The Universe/God/The Great “I AM”, that Flaming Heart within doesn’t need you to come to prayer any different than you are in this moment. Come exactly as you are – imperfect, self-destructive, angry, desperate, stubborn, sick, tired, hurt, unstable, full of failure…it doesn’t matter. You pray this: HELP ME. HELP ME. HELP ME. I NEED YOUR HELP. SEND IN ALL THE TROOPS TO HELP ME. I WILL BE WILLING TO SEE & RECEIVE THE HELP YOU PROVIDE. PLEASE HELP ME.
- GET HONEST
When you’re in pain and your life is a mess, you lie to yourself often. You lie to yourself so that you don’t have to feel. And then you lie to others so that you don’t have to feel. Stop lying. This includes lying by omission. In fact, your life is falling apart, and when taking an inventory of that, you can leave nothing out. So, get honest about what is NOT WORKING.
Find a piece of paper. Divide it into 2 columns. Title it: If I Were Honest.
On the left side, write: This is NOT WORKING. On the right side, write: This is DEFINITLY WORKING. Fill it in. Chances are, at first the left side is going to be a lot longer; and some things may need to move from the right side to the left side, on closer inspection.
You can’t get honest with yourself, much less anyone else, until you’ve taken this life inventory. Do not lose this piece of paper. It’s your map.
If anyone asks you what’s wrong with you, you say, “There’s a lot of things not working in my life. I’m working on making My Life work again.” You don’t sugarcoat it. You don’t give them more information than they can properly handle. You speak of the details only with whom it is safe.
- STOP USING
Don’t put another thing in your mouth or nose or veins that is going to KILL YOUR SPIRIT or YOUR BODY. STOP. You use so that you don’t have to think or feel. You use to take away the anxiety. You use to avoid. You use to stay stuck where you are. You use because you have pain that you don’t even have all the language for. You use, ironically, because you are looking for a life-raft/saving device from being adrift at sea in your life. STOP USING. Walk your body into an AA or NA meeting, and no matter what you think of it or how much you don’t like it or whatever you can philosophize about it, or however you can judge it, and YOU SIT THERE. Every week, every other day, every day – whatever it takes. Just start with NOW. You go where people are talking about sobriety and you STOP USING. If you screw up, start over.
Forget about cutting back. Forget about weaning off. Forget about “only on weekends”. STOP.
And guess what? You pray about this, too. HELP ME STOP.
Stop using sex. Stop using men. Stop using women. Stop using food. Stop using work. Stop using self-mutilation. Stop using extreme fitness. Whatever you’re using, STOP.
- GET INTO YOUR BODY
You have disassociated with the needs of your body.
You have disassociated with your breathing. YOU HAVE TO BREATHE DEEPLY EVERY DAY.
You have disconnected with your basic needs for rest/sleep. YOU HAVE TO SLEEP IN A CONSISTENT ROUTINE, EVERY DAY. (Not too little, not too much.)
You have disassociated with your need to move. YOU HAVE TO MOVE YOUR BODY EVERY DAY. Walk outside in the fresh air. Bike to the beach. Run through the woods. Head to the park. Your heart needs you to move. Your blood needs you to move. Your brain needs you to move. It’s likely you’ve damaged all these things. Reverse it. Reverse it. REVERSE IT. Was there a way you used to love to move? Move that way again. It may be painful or lethargic at first, but commit to it. Your body (and mind & spirit) need you to commit to it. MOVE.
You have not nourished your body with the right foods. STOP EATING SUGAR & JUNK. Stop drinking sugar and chemicals. Stop pulling into the drive-thru. Stop going to Starbucks. Eat green things every day. Stay away from foods that come in bags/packages, or are fried, or are artificially colored/sweetened with poison. EAT SIMPLE, like a farmer. Eat whole foods at every meal. Eat green food every day. Avoid sugar at all costs. Your brain needs to be rewired – healthy foods will help. Your blood needs nutrition it has been lacking, in order to feed your organs – healthy foods will provide. Your muscles need lean proteins to rebuild your optimal health – healthy foods will rebuild you. You need Omega 3’s, Omega 6’s, anti-oxidants, foods that balance hormones and alkaline levels, foods that energize and heal — EAT REAL, NOURISHING FOODS every day, preferably in 3 to 5 balanced meals.
Drink water. Your body is filled with toxins. Some of them you have put there. Drink more (pure/unflavored) water than you ever have in your life.
- STOP ENGAGING WITH UNHEALTHY CONFLICT
Unhealthy conflict has you living in a constant state of fight or flight. This is wreaking havoc on your nervous system and making you sick. Engaging in unhealthy conflict is making it impossible for you to be at peace for long. In order to stop engaging in conflict that does not serve you, you have to set HEALTHY BOUNDARIES for yourself and those in your life. There are boundaries that YOU CAN NOT CROSS. There are boundaries that OTHERS CAN NOT CROSS in your life. YOU set the boundaries and maintain them, at all costs.
Find a piece of paper. Divide it into 2 columns. Title: BOUNDARIES TO SAVE MY LIFE
On the left, write: Boundaries I Will Not Cross. On the right, write: Boundaries I Will Set in Place to Help Others. But first, Google the term “Healthy Boundaries” and read through the first couple pages that come up. Setting healthy boundaries is life-work and doesn’t happen overnight. But, IT IS ESSENTIAL for your sanity and wellbeing. After you’ve searched this term, make your list. Don’t lose this list – you will need it in the heat of the moment, and you will add to it. It’s another map – DON’T LOSE IT.
*First and foremost, make sure that you’ve put boundaries in place that will prevent you from harming yourself or others! Boundaries are there for before and when you lose clear thinking. Always remember the boundaries and your freedom to STOP, PAUSE, AND WALK AWAY when they are being dishonored. Boundaries keep you and others safe, and prevent further chaos.
- IDENTIFY YOUR LIFE-BOATS
You think God has put you here on this endless ocean without life-boats? Don’t believe in God? No problem! You’ve still got life-boats. But YOU have to identify them and GET ON.
Here’s how you’ll know you’ve found a Life-Boat:
- It’s safe and keeps you safe.
- It doesn’t want anything from you, except for your participation in your healing/wellness.
- It doesn’t judge or condemn you, but is HONEST with you.
- It is loving. Period.
- It is willing to help you, if you can ask/seek.
Life-Boats can be: family, friends, churches, groups, spiritual centers, treatment facilities, yoga, art, music, books, films/shows, hotlines, websites, counselors, doctors, spiritual leaders, podcasts, apps, nature…
YOU NEED TO FILL YOUR LIFE WITH LIFE-BOATS. RIGHT NOW.
- COMMIT TO YOUR DAILY TASKS IN A DISCIPLINED WAY
There is something to be said for getting your basic tasks in order. Sometimes in periods of trial, the small things are all that we can manage with any certainty. Make a commitment to keep basic daily tasks in order and on point. At the very least, eliminate the overwhelm of not having your daily small shit together.
What this might look like: Pay your bills (or stop avoiding them and establish a plan with the people you owe), do the damn dishes immediately, make your bed, hang your towels up, clean your car, fold your laundry, cut your grass, shave, take your dogs out in a routine they can count on, call your children or loved ones with regularity, read something small/inspiring every morning, etc.
YOU HAVE TO DO THE SMALL STUFF IN ORDER TO DO THE BIG STUFF!
- DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN
Your children know, hear, and see more than you can possibly know. Also, they may not be as resilient as you think they are. Create normalcy and calm as best as you can (but really, EVEN BETTER than you think you can) for your children. Listen to them when they speak to you. Stay off your phone when you’re with them. Look into their eyes often. Hug them frequently. Be KIND. Choose to be present when you are spending time with your children. Do not enroll them in your drama. Do not discuss your trials with them at any length – they are too young to process adult problems in a healthy way. Do not lash out at your children – no verbal assaulting or uncontrolled anger of any kind. YOU HAVE TO LEARN TO PAUSE BEFORE REACTING in the presence of your children. Let your children know that no matter what, YOU AE GOING TO BE OKAY and THEY ARE GOING TO BE OKAY. Let them know repeatedly that they are safe, loved, seen, heard and valued through your words and actions.
- STOP HIDING
“Stop Hiding” and “Get Honest” go hand in hand. What “stop hiding” really means is that when you find you’re trying to sell people onto how you’re not the one to blame for this or you’re not the one to blame for that, STOP. When you’re trying to convince people that you’re doing better than you really are, STOP. When you’re trying to take attention off your own CRAZY and put it onto someone else’s CRAZY, STOP. When you’re trying to manipulate others about your current state, STOP. When you’re trying to brush it all under the rug, so it magically disappears, STOP. When you’re looking for a way to be alone more, so that you can continue to destroy yourself, numb out, have control, or deceive, STOP. STOP HIDING. If you want to save your life, allow yourself to be seen where you are right now, as you are RIGHT NOW. Allow YOU to see YOU.
- LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE
Sometimes we act like we cannot believe how we got where we are. We pretend that everything was just wonderful (or normal) “back then”. And many people around us just do not have the emotional intelligence or language regarding psychology, healing, recovery, or spirituality to navigate the big picture with us. The fact is, usually when you find yourself in the spot where you need to read this article, there have been patterns in your life that have made you sick and sometimes sicker over time. These can be identified in our relationships with women, men, violence, abuse, substance abuse, money, health, etc. When not properly healed, they can throw our lives into chaos over and over again, and often in an escalating trend with each “episode”.
The bigger picture is dictated by unhealed/unaddressed issues like codependence, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, childhood or adult trauma, childhood abuse, childhood abandonment/instability, sexual abuse, personality/behavioral disorders, etc. It may take us decades to learn the names for what we have been through, that impacts us chronically today. But name it we must! (As a start, you can Google some of the terms I’ve mentioned.)
Once you begin to understand your experience in various life stages, you’ll understand that you didn’t get to where you are now by accident. You’ll actually see that you’re totally responsible for the reality you have today. BUT, in order to reconcile with the past and the origination of the problems you are now having, you have to get clear on what you’ve been through, sometimes all the way back to the beginning. Otherwise, you’ll have no frame of reference; no starting pointing, no ground zero. You need to use some of your Life-Boats to explore the big picture so that you know where ground zero is and can begin to make lasting change from that aware place.
YOU CAN DO THIS
You’re not going to be in the rabbit hole forever. But you can’t do what you’ve been doing. YOU have to attempt something(s) very differently. You can do hard things. YOU CAN. You can do this. But you can’t do this, while you’re doing that. YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE A PATH. That path may require a total overhaul. But, you’re brave and resilient. Also, you were made in the likeness of a loving God/Universe. You are still THAT. And if you can’t grab onto that idea, then grab onto this: You are either living or you’re dying. CHOOSE. If you choose living, know that you don’t have to go it alone. That you’ve read this article to the end, is evidence that this is true. You have been spoken to. You have been given this to start with. Remember the prayer in STEP 1?
Here it is, again: HELP ME. HELP ME. HELP ME. I NEED YOUR HELP. SEND IN ALL THE TROOPS TO HELP ME. I WILL BE WILLING TO SEE & RECEIVE THE HELP YOU PROVIDE.
This is the first answer to that prayer. You have a starting place. Begin where you are.
– Kendallauren Heath