What would it look like today if I leaned in to my struggles?
What would it feel like to face my challenges head on?
How would my life look different if I didn't shrink back?
If I chose to use my voice and not stay silent?
What if I could escape the grips of shame and lean my body, mind, and spirit into the hard things—in order to heal?
What if I really believed that recovery is possible?
If you know me, you know I love to ask questions.
I think that all of these questions are connected--and have a unique connection to the concept of freedom. I know this because I have experienced the immensity of this freedom.
Freedom is waiting on the other side of our struggles.
What Keeps Us Stuck
For many years in my active addiction and early in recovery, I did not want to lean in to the struggle. I thought that ending the addiction (or at least stalling it) was enough. The flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, depression, lingering toxic stress, trust issues, relationship disasters, boundary issues, disordered eating and trouble sleeping—I thought that somehow it was all going to magically disappear after I quit drinking and drugging.
After I came to recovery, I realized just how broken I was and just how much support I needed to make the kind of changes I wanted to make in my life. I realized that transformation was going to cost me something (and not just the money I spent on outpatient treatment or recovery support services). If I was not willing to lean in to my struggles, then I was opting out. Just like I had spent years already in the active escape of my active addiction. Like hitting the small x on the screen to the right of the pop-up. Every time I chose to walk away or turn my back on an underlying issue, it might disappear for a time but it was going to resurface.
So What Changed?
Well, I’ll like to give you a list of the ways that I was able to lean in to my struggle (and I will get to that), but first I’d like to say that my leaning in was not something that I could do on my own. I wasn’t the only one hurtling down hill and needing to shift the weight of my body to make it around the bend without flying into a snow drift or hitting an evergreen. There was a group of us, like those beautiful shifting waves of small black birds that create works of art in the sky as they flit here and there in perfect unison—we were all moving towards healing.
I could never will myself by myself to heal. I can’t lean in to my struggle by myself and expect to make it out alive. I cannot lean in to my experience to create new opportunities unless I do this with others. With you.
God has created us to live together in community, in harmony. When I realize this, I understand that I can take my recovery to the next level when I humbled myself and let other in to my journey. When I embraced vulnerability instead of creating more walls (even sober ones) around myself and my experience.
I learned (and am still learning, I’d like to point out) that:
Healing isn’t a holding on—it’s a letting go. With the help of our recovery family.
So, in the spirit of reclaiming the phrase “lean in” and in the spirit of letting go—I’d like to offer up a couple simple (though not easy) ways that we can practically lean in to the struggles of our lives whether those are related to alcohol or other drug use, relationships, eating disorders, trauma or other self-destructive behaviors.
Want to learn more? Register today for my next FREE EVENT: Lean in to Your Struggle with Emily Killeen.
Can't make the date and time? No worries! Just register and I'll make sure you get a video link sent right to your inbox on August 1st.
Parts of this article was first published on In the Rooms. Check it out here.