Go Ahead, Step Through

By Tim McLeod, NCRC-II
Director of Alumni Relations & Connect365 Sierra Tucson

Imagine it’s your first time walking into a therapist’s office, entering an AA meeting full of strangers, or stepping through the doors of residential treatment and you look up and see a bright red warning sign: “For those who choose to enter, nothing will ever be the same.”

Do you walk further? The very idea of that kind of transformation can be terrifying, paralyzing, and yet at its core, it holds profound promise.

Admittedly, entering with eyes wide open is no easy feat. Common sense supports that no substantial change is instant, easy, or even predictable. That includes the daunting recovery journey toward healing and change. It’s a process marked by ups and downs, breakthroughs and relapses. Here’s another warning: It can be disheartening. But take heart — each step promises to bring you forward and closer to your true self — but only if you can embrace the following:

Seek Honesty

We are sometimes mired in our own messy interpretation of the events in our lives. But stop to consider what happens when we begin to peel back the layers and confront our struggles with an open and honest heart. Honesty takes a weight off and helps us to understand ourselves in new ways. It says I don’t have to pretend. My days of faking it are over. What a relief!

Expect to get Messy

The work it takes to be honest and find healing often forces us to think about the past and how we got here and it’s not a place we necessarily want to go. So, expect to get messy with all our goop bubbling up from the past. Our stuff is not wrapped up neatly in a Tiffany blue-bowed box. That’s not real life.

Find Your Courage

We all have some courage. It’s finding it that’s the hard part. But bravery is rewarded to those who realize that they are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Taking action, even the smallest of actions can provide the courage to take the next step. Even if you sit quietly and don’t contribute during a group session, or you utter nothing to your therapist and instead choose to watch the clock tick minute by minute (think Matt Damon and Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting), it’s okay – congratulate yourself on showing up and being there. After all your journey is about progress, not perfection!

Embrace Your Safe Space

Therapy and support groups are spaces where we can be vulnerable without fear of judgment. It’s where we can lay down our burdens, share our stories, and be met with empathy and understanding. The act of sharing, even our darkest moments, can be a catalyst for healing and creates space for connection and support from others who have walked similar paths. We begin to discover that they are not so different from you….and as I like to say you are not “terminally unique.” It’s in this holding space that we find the courage to confront our demons and embrace the changes that come with healing.

Get Ready to See things in Color:

As we continue to show up for ourselves, whether in therapy sessions, support group meetings, or simply by reaching out for help, we begin to see glimpses of Technicolor amidst the black and white of our struggles. Color brings with it dimension and new perspectives to see things differently. Color represents the hope that begins to emerge when we are vulnerable, we learn to embrace honesty and begin to trust others who are there for us.

If you want to learn how to start your path of recovery to find your own miracle, contact me at [email protected]. For more on Sierra Tucson please visit http://www.sierratucson.com