Anxiety Is Our Norm
One of the least discussed aspects of recovery is how hard it is to get used to being okay. It’s unfamiliar and a huge adjustment. We’re people who are accustomed to a lifestyle that is equal parts hustling and experiencing that sinking feeling in our guts. Anxiety is our norm, both in active addiction and in early recovery. For far too many of us, anxiety is life long, which sucks because it can be overcome.
As we rebuild our lives, we gain stability and safety. Our basic life needs are met and while there may be many things we want, there is little that we need. We experience less and less chaos and crisis. We find that we’re still looking over our shoulder, but what we’re slow to accept is that things really are… okay.
Serenity is a foreign feeling. We’re likely to distrust it and rail against it. Many of us create “drama” simply to get back to what we’re accustomed to. If we can tolerate the discomfort of things going well, we come to recognize the feeling as the gateway to further growth and healing.
Gaining confidence and faith in self is vital to recovery. Too many of us are perpetually surprised when things turn out well. We deny ourselves the right to improve our self-worth and our sense of agency –belief in our abilities and emerging character. Instead, we deflect praise, attribute success to luck, and give credit to others while refusing to internalize validation and assurances.
As things continue to go well, we become increasingly worried. Our lives become a Nickelback song in which, “Something’s gotta go wrong cuz I’m feeling way too damned good.” I hear a lot of predictions and self-fulfilling prophecies about failure. Their lives are Staind, “It’s been a while since I’ve gone and f@cked things up, just like I always do.”
The key to breaking these cycles is to stop, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
Don’t wait. Shoes will drop and shit will happen. All of our “preparation” (anticipation and scriptwriting) will be for naught. I’ve learned that what really kicks my ass in life are things I could not possibly have seen coming. Moreover, I’ve learned that preparing myself (a combination of trying to predict the future and dreading it), robs me of any peace or happiness I might experience today.