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  • annedouglas8

A Narrative Re-Imagined



“The soul is tinged with the color and complexion of its own thoughts...Your life it what your thoughts make it.” -Marcus Aurelius

My thoughts are just that, a thought, and need not be permanent. Thoughts and experiences are interwoven, similar to a ball of twine. As they unravel I challenge them, notice them and let them go. The alternative, ruminating in the past. My hope, to rescue myself from threatening thoughts, entrenched in my highly charged emotional mind. My extreme, overly amplified, polarized thinking forces me to exist in a hellish, self contained box. Where is my safe space, one of resilience, flexibility and increased tolerance? Bewildered by obstacles, real or imagined, which all too often promote my use of ineffective strategies. They ultimately fail in their ability to propel me over the necessary hurdle.


I have spent ninety days in rehab facilities, a quarter of a year. Substance abuse breeds self flagellation. I will get to know some of you more intimately than others, yet you all play a role on my road to recovery. Entering this community, we are strangers. A diverse population, age and gender, sexual orientation and religious and political affiliations. We are a colorful group, drenched in wrong doings. Arriving by car or plane, we’re here for the same reason, we need help. I cross the building’s threshold, emotionally and physically, tethered by my own “baggage.” We are united by a common force, a desire to reconnect with our personal values and beliefs. We are not a singular story, we are the sum of our experiences. A collection of well worn essays, marinating in pain and frustration. We are a compilation of our past, defined by years of errors, culminating in erratic behavior. Pigeon holed, discounting our worthiness, indulging in acts of self harm. I perceive self care as simply selfish.


Our families are simultaneously in our periphery and at the for front of our mind. Practicing emotional regulation as it relates to avoidance steers us on emotional detours. Relying heavily on our defense’s leads us to use them habitually. We suppress the desire to ask a loved one for support, we feel immense shame and guilt. As human beings the desire to connect is primal, yet past negative experiences inhibit us from taking future risks. Chronically dissatisfied, wallowing in predictions of our future selves. Negativity, a self-fulling prophecies. We envision distant landscapes of our imagined futures. They fade, so do I. A victim of my own delusional circumstances.


Life is uncomfortable, I seek space for its uneasiness. Is there room for acceptance and forgiveness? It’s unclear. I live moment to moment. Yesterday I’m floating on a cloud with a clear view, I’m optimistic, full of hope. Today I can’t free myself, a rip-tide suctions me into deeper abandon. If we agree to reside in the present, we open ourselves to the possibility of a shared commitment. If I repent, will I see a path that leads to redemption? If I’m willing to explore contradicting view points, will I achieve a better understanding of the trigger’s that lead to self-loathing and shame?


Together, as a group, we assume our same seats, in the shape of a U. With no place to hide we are instantly vulnerable. Most of us are familiar with this type of setting but still emits signs of discomfort. In being here we are admitting to ourselves and to each other that we are troubled. As Outcasts we no longer belong in our once familiar environment. Our facial expressions are apprehensive, postures humble, we sit with the consequences of our own doing. Do I have the strength to move forward? If so, will society welcome me back? Within these walls lies a dress rehearsal for our future. A rotation in turn, whose loneliness and despair will trump all others on any given day. It’s inevitable we feel misunderstood but share glimmers of hope. A potential shift, negativity into optimism. Is my goal attainable when my glass is neither half full or half empty? My glass is bone dry. Our core dilemma, asking for help. It’s critical to cultivate social support. Someone hits pause, encouraging us to stop and feel. Be present and mindful. A requirement, a mosaic of different people we can lean on, rely on. Are they my saviors, preventing me from drowning in emotional quicksand? A question I’m incapable of answering. Will tomorrow bring peace and serenity? I hope so.

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