My father taught me some cool stuff. He taught me about animals, horseback riding, plants and dirt.
That’s right. Dirt. Dirt and the earth and how water and plants and trees all work together to keep things in place. He showed me how a hillside or mountain pass will erode when the trees and plants are removed; all those roots hold the earth in place and when they are gone, well, dirt happens. The ground becomes unstable and loose and begins to slide downwards. Add storms and water and the process quickens.
The experience of addiction, disordered eating and other mental health issues is erosion. Relationships, health, skill sets, spiritual connection and right livelihood are all washed away in the storm.
Maybe, we were not given the solid life skills or roots to create a grounded life. Maybe, a traumatic childhood or incident(s) took those roots away from us bit by bit and our lives became more and more unstable. Maybe, we were carried away in the storm.
Sobriety or recovery is a process of waking of up, covered in mud, dirt and rocks at the bottom of the hill. Before we can even begin to plant new seeds and create a stable life, we must befriend the ground.
We need to spend some time at the bottom of the hill, playing around in the mud, building forts and creating some safety. We must root down to rise up. For many of us, this can look like little to no activity; we need to sleep, eat and gain a little strength. We look around for others like us so that we aren’t so alone. Maybe, we begin a short meditation, or uplifting reading practice. Maybe, we attend a meeting or gathering of like-minded people or call a therapist.
Later, we are stronger and realize that storms will come again and we need to prepare. We are still at the bottom of the hill and either we must move to avoid another mudslide or strengthen the hillside or both.
Some of us climb up the mountain, plant trees and flowers and make beautiful pathways. Usually, we don’t get to live at the top of the hill, not so fast. You see, the top of the hill can be just as unstable as the bottom. There is still foundation to be built. We need more plants!
So, we plant, weed and tend to our recovery hillside. We realize that we want to live. We want to live where we are, building and creating and having some fun. At this point, we are probably working and our living situations are more stable. Relationships become a source of learning and growth.
We realize that our foundations are stronger. We look up at our hillside and see that the erosion has (mostly) stopped. There can be a tendency to sprint to the top of the hill, proclaiming, “I’ve made it, I’m healed, nothing can stop me now.”
But wait, young warrior. Slow down for a moment and stay present. Recovery can contain elements of erosion as well. Stressors and storms still come along and we must stay with our practices (movement, good nutrition, prayer, yoga, therapy/coaching, nature, friendships, sober groups) in order to stay on our-not-so-linear-path.
There will be many opportunities to survey the earth around us and clarity helps us see where erosion may be occurring. Are my relationships crumbling or is my health failing in some way? What do I need to repair in my financial affairs? Will my foundation remain solid in the storms that will for sure, arrive one day?
We grow through what we go through. Each storm brings new surprises and damage. Yet, with deep roots, just like the trees we have planted on our hillside, we can flex and bend, lose a branch or two and still gratefully reach for the sunshine after the storm. We have the strength and wisdom to repair the damage and we no longer have to slide to the bottom of the hill.
What are some of your favorite practices for creating a solid foundation? How do you best weather the storms of life? I love to hear how you are doing and how I may support you. Feel free to be in touch.