I sat in the metaphorical filth and dirt of my addicted brain for more years than I care to remember. My view of the world ranged from fuzzy and disorientated through to squalid, hopeless and desperate. If visitors could ever see how I was living in my head, they would tell me to get the hell out of there and find a new place to live! Of course, I masked and covered the reality of my inner workings to all and sundry. That was until it became too hard to repress, and the outward behaviours that accompanied my addicted mind created enough chaos to impact on other people’s lives.
Why did I guard such a ghastly, at times demonic, headspace so vigorously? Why didn’t I just simply change my thinking, and with it change my life? Why, if I was so unhappy, did I insist on staying where I was?
It’s because no matter how dark and miserable my thoughts became, I still regarded that space as my own, private retreat that offered me a familiar sense of security. As uncomfortable as it was, it was my comfort zone. It was my home.
Over the years of actively feeding my addiction, I would often look at ways of bettering myself by creating a new, fresh space between my ears, but every time I resolved to make a change, I would soon become unsettled and uncomfortable, and almost immediately retreat into the confines of my mind slum…back to its perceived security. It carried on for years and left many of my outward promises looking rather empty, which in turn made it harder for people to take me seriously. That societal judgement made me retreat within even more.
And then recovery presented itself to me. Our relations were pretty cold at first; recovery was asking me to do things that involved change and meant stepping out of my head. It required me to change, and told me that if I was ever to leave the ugly nest that had been home for so long, I would need to step out. Recovery made it clear that, if I was going to get better, then everything had to change – but slowly does it, that change doesn’t need to happen in one day. Recovery requested time, patience and effort with no small amount of faith, so that the recovery seeds I planted in early recovery would blossom as my journey progressed.
I’m so glad I listened and took on board what recovery was telling me to do. I can’t say I would be here today if I hadn’t. But stepping outside of uncomfortable comfort was literally the first step. On the recovery rollercoaster, in those early days, I had moments where I just wanted to scramble back to my turgid safe space, and other days that I felt emboldened and motivated to move as far away from that shithole as possible. Even today, a few years down the line, I can hear that voice in my head telling me to return, but it doesn’t have the all-encompassing influence that it once enjoyed. There are louder, more reassuring voices in my head and around me that make sure I don’t go back.
Inner growth and personal development do not reside in the areas of our life that we find the most comfortable. Outside of the comfort zone is knowledge, wisdom and experience that you won’t get access to if you stand still and stay where you are. It is difficult, at times terrifying. The anxiety that envelops me whenever I explore new areas, whether it be recovery or life, can easily overwhelm to the point that I feel like stopping whatever I am doing. Sometimes the pain wins.
But if recovery has taught me one thing (and it has taught me a lot more than that) it is that the pain of doing something new is only as strong as I allow it to be, and when I do front up and battle through, I always come through the other side, unscathed… and much better for it.
Just on the other side of your comfort boundary lies the growth opportunities that you need to lead a happy, more balanced life. You probably can’t see it from the sanctity of your comfort zone, but trust me, it’s there… just take a step out and see for yourselves…
I hope Wednesday is treating you well my friends.
Lots of love