It is said that people can’t truly change. I know people who fully buy into this concept. And it is true to some degree. People’s personalities don’t change. My friends from high school still have the same mannerisms as they did in their youth, and when we all get together, it’s basically the same group of people laughing at each other for being so individually predictable. People do transform, however when they decide to take the Hero’s Journey. Transformation occurs when someone intentionally sheds their old ways, habits, ideas and belief systems because their life simply isn’t working for them. It is a difficult endeavor, but once the transformation occurs, there is an obvious shift in the person’s demeanor. They walk in the wholeness of themselves and appear lighter – less weighed down. For me, I’ve noticed that I laugh a lot more now, and emotions flow through me much quicker. I don’t hold onto anger for very long. My daughter has even told me that it is “weird” to watch me when I get mad because one minute I will express anger and the next I’m talking about how beautiful the sunset is. She literally observes me flow through difficult emotions in minutes, whereas before, I would wallow in them for hours or days even.
Proof of change is in the pudding. I am not a naturally patient person. I mean, addicts are not patient in general (duh). We want everything NOW, and we want more of that everything as soon as possible. When I wasn’t getting my way in life, I would rage. If I had my mind set on something and for whatever reason, that something was taken from me, I would lose it. The difference now is, I do not get my mind set on anything. I can thank my treatment counsellors for helping me overcome my impatience. They made us sit and sit and sit and sit and wait for hours. They told us “no” when we expected a “yes.” They switched things up when we got comfortable and if we got impatient with them, they had a bit of fun with that, which angered us. That anger was purposely provoked. It was the one emotion that we could not mask, so we had to sit through it because there was no other outlet, unless we wanted to be kicked out. Six months of hearing “no” and sitting through my anger was well-crafted to re-train me to navigate through life without expectation.
I change my mind quite often, which drives some people crazy. (I can dish it, but can’t take it). I honestly feel that I was created this way in order to assist others in their own growth of not expecting things to be one way. Since I’ve been back with my daughter, who is a naturally “fixed” person (which means she doesn’t appreciate sudden change), she has learned to roll through life with me. Sometimes she resists, but more often than not I am witnessing a big shift in her entire way of being. It is difficult for her to “let go” when she’s got her mind set on something, but she is a good negotiator so we have learned a manageable way to compromise her fixed way of thinking with my flightiness.
When you learn to slow down and not to expect, and to be present – life flows much more smoothly. Plans often change in life. Things come up unexpectedly. Traffic slows things down. We do not always get what we want when we want it. We must learn to roll with the punches, as they say. Recovery has taught me this. And if you knew me seven years ago and ran into me now, you would notice a big difference in my demeanor. I’m lighter. I don’t think much about outcome. I don’t plan things down to the minor details. I do not expect much, if anything at all, which opens up the space for me to be pleasantly surprised more often than not.
Life happens and it is difficult to control how things occur, and when they occur. Since I’ve replaced my need to consume my life with temporary pleasures, and replaced that inner void with patience, everything seems to work out just fine, and I am much happier. Life unties it’s own knots when you let go of outcome. And when you wait for something patiently (instead of tensing up), often there is a pleasant surprise awaiting. I used to speed through life, and now I envision myself on a raft just floating along, enjoying the view, taking it all in and being grateful rather than expecting something more, or for it to happen at a certain time. I’m not 100% patient about everything, but overall, I would say that there is an obvious transformation.