This is so true about most of life, with your relationship, with your job, with exercising, with friendships ... whatever! Steps back frustrate us, make us want to quit, make us feel like all is hopeless! It's as if those steps back put us right where we started and what was the use of all that work that we just did anyway? In fact, it is the point where most of us WANT to quit .... and sadly it is also the point where many people DO give up!
"It's just too hard" ... "This isn't worth it" ..... "I'm so tired of all this" ..... "I just can't do it anymore" .... sound familiar? We have all said these things and if you are like me, actually meant it sometimes. But I didn't really mean them, I just felt frustrated since I have experienced the steps forward and I liked where I was headed. I KNOW what I want and how I want to feel and I won't accept any less at this point. Steps forward show us where we want to be ... or at least where we want to be headed.
Here is the thing though .... those steps back can be looked at as empowering and crucial to our success in life. They are a part of the recovery, or LIFE, process that can never be avoided. It can open your mind to see what you still NEED to work on, especially now that you might be more aware of your life. We are now in a position to openly see how our actions and behaviors affect our life and those around us. The patterns that you have been experiencing will keep repeating themselves if we don't accept what needs to be dealt with.
This recognition, this point of view and this openness can help put you in a better position to truly take a huge step forward. Once you are able to do that the leap forward will not be small baby steps but truly a leap ahead. Our steps back are truly clues showing us what we need if we are able to do the tough work it takes to keep our minds open to the message during this vulnerable time.
Throughout our life together Ed and I have taken so many steps back, steps forward, to the damn side, around the corner and where ever else steps can go! I sometimes feel we are doing Country Line Dancing - even though I have no clue how. This is such a common theme in recovery, it's real and it totally sucks. Just when we would think things are getting better a damn crater in the sidewalk appears and we can't step anywhere but in it!
The backward 2-step happened to us pretty recently when we took a long vacation back to the East coast. At the time, we were just tired ... tired of everything! Everyone wanted to know what Ed did, how I was surviving, and learn about our incredible adventure. While we initially laughed together and celebrated our lives together it wore on me. And Ed. It's not easy knowing your family knows your husband had sex with a prostitute - oh yeah, and that I was on national TV with Anderson Cooper talking about it.
This was touching Ed's wounds ("not good enough", "loser", "hooker fucker" the voices shouted in his head) and mine ("loser for staying" and so on and so on), and by the end, as much fun as we had, we had had enough. But with the exception of one, what we call a slip from presence, we knew that these uncomfortable feelings were our friends . . . . trying to tell us what we need to work on and what to be aware of, what part's of us were still hurting. We listened. -
During the tiff, we were actually pretty nasty to each other and to be honest my safety was being triggered (not physical safety but the safety that you emotionally need to feel secure in a relationship) and Ed's wound felt like it was getting punched. It was both of us though ...
But, after a pretty big fight .... some fantastic name calling (you can imagine the phrases that I can throw around "hooker fucker") .. and some other immature tantrums (sometimes they are inevitable and fun to look back on and laugh about) ... we stopped and took a deep breath, . . . and then took another.
Then we took some time to recognize that this wasn't the way we like to communicate anymore - this wasn't "skillful means" and "loving kindness" (Ed's tattoos BTW). As fun as it is in the moment to act like a complete child it doesn't work and it really doesn't work for us. We know this now, we know we don't want to hurt each other and we understand those types of communications makes each of us feel unsafe.
So with the tools we learned from George and Paldrom, and those we learned on our own, we were able to slip away from the crazy moments of emotion and ask ourselves, "what is this feeling trying to teach me?" "What can I learn here?" To make a really long story short (I can babble on and on and on and on ...... wow, do I ever stop?????) we had one of the greatest communications that we have EVER had. It brought such a wonderful understanding and empathy to each of us. Actually, since then ... Ed has been exactly where I need him to be and I am truly HAPPY. He has been loving, compassionate and affectionate. Really that was all I had wanted .... and I feel really loved!!! That step forward ROCKED I must say!!!!!
Here is the moral of this story ...... If you can embrace those steps back and see them as natural and necessary, you can see that it is the time for you to work even harder. Open your mind, You see what you want now, you know where you want to be headed ... so the leap forward can bring you even farther than you were before! AND THAT IS A WONDERFUL THING!!!