Unexpected…

Recovery is fascinating. Frustrating, exhausting, painful, humiliating, humbling? Absolutely, all that and more… but yet it remains fascinating none the less.

It doesn’t matter if you’re recovering from a broken shoulder, a broken heart, a broken childhood, it doesn’t matter if you’re recovering from trauma, addiction, mental illness, or physical illness… its never as smooth as you expect. It’s incredibly unpredictable. There are periods where suddenly several pieces suddenly “click” and off you go, things are looking up, and finally it feels like things are going your way. There are periods where a mere 24 hours of not fighting tooth and nail not to completely give up sound like heaven. Sometimes what seems like a huge hurdle takes minimal effort to overcome, and the dumbest little pebbles can undo weeks of effort. And no one person’s recovery looks like another person’s – there are similarities, absolutely. But really, it comes down to the individual – you can have all the support, encouragement, cheerleaders, and tools you need to succeed… but it comes down to the individual to do the work. I think that’s what makes recovery so thrilling, and yet so exhausting.

But even so, there are moments within the road to recovery, the road to wholeness, where an unexpected moment can be healing in unexpected ways. Part of that is remembering we’re all human. We’re all f*cked up in our own ways, the only difference is how your particular failings happened compared to mine. Sometimes those are 100% choice, sometimes we have no choice whatsoever, but it really doesn’t matter – because we’re all human. And sometimes we’re just the victim of someone else’s attempt to cover their own hurts and mistakes. It’s so easy to vilify and dehumanize those who have caused us hardship and pain. It’s hard to forgive those people – and even harder to keep them forgiven and not allow that malicious bitterness and anger creep back in.

Which brings me to recent events. Without going into a lot of detail – an unexpected encounter forced me to do a hard gut-check. Hard, as in painful. Hard, as in I realized I was still holding on to stuff I didn’t need to be. Hard, as in I realized I was still holding a lot of bitterness and anger even though I thought I’d made progress. Hard, as in I could have justifiably lashed out (but thankfully chose to be patient and civil). Hard, as in I was forced to humanize someone I really didn’t want to see that way. Hard, as in I realized part of my heart was just as wounded (full of anger, malice, rage, bitterness and a whole lot of ugly) as the one who’d hurt me.

Hard.

As in this happenstance could have gone ugly. I’d been dreading something like this for years. And all that negativity was right at the surface threatening to boil over, like pressure cooker ready to detonate. That kind of hard.

But the hardest part? A few days after, I realized something. Most of that anger, bitterness, malice, and negativity was vastly diminished… because someone who betrayed me, asked me to do something very simple (and by no means was it unreasonable either, just to be clear). And because of that small act, the one who hurt me years ago, has now delivered a level of healing I don’t know I would have been able to manage without it. And I doubt they even know that they did.

Recovery is fascinating. Frustrating, exhausting, painful, humiliating, humbling? Absolutely, all that and more… but yet it remains fascinating none the less.

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