If He Can Do It, So Can You!

Yep! YOU can do it!

Some of you may be wondering what happened to us. It’s been quite a few weeks since we last blogged. What’s up?

Well, let’s just say, life can sometimes take some very unexpected turns. One day things are fine and, literally overnight, everything changes.

IT RECENTLY HAPPENED TO US

July 26th started just like every other day. I grabbed a cup of coffee and proceeded with my morning ritual of checking my e-mail and reviewing my calendar. A few minutes into that, Bruce came into the family room and sat down in his chair. He promptly announced that he was “feeling funny” and thought maybe he should go to the walk-in clinic to be checked out. It caught me by surprise. He looked the same as always.

I knew he’d been experiencing some shortness of breath for several weeks, but we figured he was just a bit out of shape. That morning, being winded wasn’t the only issue he was having, though. He talked about feeling some weird pressure in his chest. Not really pain—just pressure. He assured me that the clinic would probably check him out, tell him to lay off dessert and get a little more exercise and send him on to work.

Something told me I should go with him. I quickly got dressed, we hopped in the car and headed for the walk-in clinic.  As soon as he started to explain to the receptionist why he was there, she abruptly stopped him and said someone would be with him right away. Seconds later a doctor came out. After asking him a few quick questions she turned and grabbed a wheel chair. Before we knew what was happening she was pushing him out the door and almost running him across the parking lot toward the emergency room. Yikes! This wasn’t the way it was supposed to go.

THE UNEXPECTED

Long story short, they did a few tests shy of a thousand (slight exaggeration), poked, prodded, questioned, hooked him up to all kinds of monitors, poked and prodded some more. Finally after a few hours they announced that they were admitting him to the hospital for further testing. Evidently his heart was beating at twice the normal speed and his oxygen levels were dangerously low. The doctors were very concerned. Before we knew it, we were hearing words like “heart failure,” and “atrial flutter,” and listening to them describe the emergency procedures they would be doing as quickly as they could secure an operating room.

It was scary. . . for both of us. Life takes on a new seriousness when your heart isn’t working as it should. There are lots of unknowns—and lots of what ifs that you’re afraid to even entertain.

AN UNSPOKEN FEAR

But in this case, I was experiencing yet another intense fear. In 13 years of working with addicts I have seen, first-hand, how illness, fear, helplessness, and an abundance of free time—which his recuperation would require—can be a deadly cocktail for anyone who has struggles with addiction.

Even one of those situations will potentially make an individual more vulnerable to old behaviors and here we were, dealing with all of them.

Bruce and I didn’t really talk about it . . . there was just too much going on . . . but I was concerned that this new situation might be “too much” and that maybe, after years of being free, he might seek solace in old habits.

When, weeks later, I finally mustered the courage to ask him if he had been struggling, I was relieved that his instant answer was, “No. Not at all.”

But I was curious. What made the difference for him?

THE BIG FOUR

He mentioned four specific things that he believes helped keep “the monster” away.

1. SOLID REWIRING –

That brain of his is actually different than it used to be. Consistent repetition of new thought patterns and behaviors over the years have effectively short circuited many of the neuro-pathways that were tied to the addiction. All the work he has done has taken hold. His automatic “answers” to life’s struggles no longer lead him to acting out. He’s developed new, healthier ways to deal with the challenges.

2. SATISFACTION –

He likes the freedom he’s enjoyed for so many years now. If a thought pops into his mind, he no longer plays with it. Instead he thinks beyond the momentary pay-off that could be his and reminds himself of the intense pain and frustration that being enslaved by sexual addiction caused. Just remembering that heartbreak and encouraging his gratitude to grow for the life he has now, helps him be able to walk away from temptation.

3. CONNECTION –

He fully understands the importance of being well-connected with the safe people in his life. He pays attention to even the smallest drift toward isolating and intentionally reaches out to someone. He has seen, time and time again, how talking about his feelings and fears, in all areas of his life, reduce their power.

4. KEEPING THE LOAD LIGHT –

Increasingly he has learned to deal with issues as they come up. When he’s tempted to procrastinate or try to ignore situations, he’s learned to tell himself “just, do it!” and get it over with. Promptly resolving problems eliminates many of the thoughts that lead to entitlement and hopelessness.

YOU CAN DO IT, TOO!

We pray that you will never experience heart failure and all the medical procedures and recuperation it requires. We hope you never have to take five weeks off work, with so many restrictions that there’s virtually nothing left you can do, day after day after day. But, we know you will encounter your own Goliath’s that have the potential to bring you down. That’s just part of life.

Just know that the work you do today to rewire your brain, relish your growing freedom, build connections and resolve the things that could become stumbling blocks, will prepare you to DO IT, too!

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. — Chronicles 15:7

TODAY’S CHAT – What positive steps have you taken this week to prepare yourself to face the future challenges to your recovery that will inevitably come your way?

2 Comments

  • Jon Beaty

    Reply Reply November 4, 2016

    Janet,

    Your point about stressful situations triggering old behaviors is a good one to remember. Congrats to Bruce on recognizing what keeps him free from addiction and building up his big four as guardians of his sanity.

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