“I’m off the island”, is what my therapist says. Safety was sticking to the recovery friends, being single, being in the moment and not worrying about where I was headed. While that was a very safe place to be, it in itself was away from life, from new experiences, from new people. It was also away from old friends, people from my past who I owe amends.
The real litmus for any recovery is how we handle being a part of life, how our new selves address old thinking and old feelings. There’s a lot of turbulence to this at first. Not so much like swimming in the open ocean, but learning to handle the surf and the break. Fighting life like this on my own is futile. Eventually, I’d be washed back ashore half drowned, three quarters dead and all broken; necessarily needing to take time and heal on dry land again. Else, not knowingly I could catch a rip and be pulled out faster than anticipated.
Being a part of the island was also about knowing the beaches and coves and reefs around. Knowing the safe places to wade and when the tides might come. In doing this I can pick a path to the open water that will suit me. The crashing of the waves may seem appealing, until I realize the bottom is all oyster shell and rock. The calm may look and feel easy until I encounter a stingray’s barb or a shark’s tooth. A meaningful swim can only be made knowing how to get to the open water. Perhaps knowing where the harbors, bays and coves are so that a storm can be waited out.
Why am I writing in such metaphor? It’s because I’m off the island. I’m facing life. I’m facing those I hurt and am hurt by, I constantly check my heading and hopefully have an idea where I’m going. I’m learning to handle relationships, I’m learning to handle being a co-parent and ex-husband. I’m not always succeeding, but it seems my struggles are more with my own boat and rigging than anything the sea has thrown at me thus far. When I’m calm and centered I sail with absolute surety. When I’m feeling like I’ve taken on too much I still panic. I can still blame God for the storm when in reality maybe God need not be invoked, only trusted.