What if your inner voice, not the critic but the kinder, more gentle supportive inner voice, were to say this entire statement to you...
"I see you sitting there, dear one. Perhaps staring at your phone in a social media-medicated state. Or glaring at your bills piling up as you try to keep up with the disaster that your spouse has created for your family. Or perhaps you are waiting for the phone to ring to tell you that you don't have an STD from acting out(nor does your partner). Or, you have some solid recovery time from your primary addiction but can't quite kick your smoking or drinking or over-eating habit (or co-addiction).
I am here to tell you, you can do it. You Got This. When every day life tries to pull you down, it is just a test. The universe (or whatever you want to call it) has a masterful (and sometimes frustrating or even sickly humorous) way of putting experiences in front of us to see how strong we are, if we are ready to take on the challenge, if we have the strength and fortitude to get through the next 24 hours.
This blog is written by our wonderful trauma and addictions specialist Annie Jacobs.
Now that the hype of the New Year has calmed down, how are you feeling about your New Year’s Resolutions? Have you perhaps set an intention to start your recovery, or do more in your recovery? Do you find yourself already lagging behind your recovery goals and continuing to put them off saying to yourself that you will get to them ‘tomorrow’? Are you beating yourself up because you missed a day of your workout routine already or ate that one food you swore you would avoid this year? Are you looking into the rest of the year with despair or are you still riding your momentum and determination to achieve your goals? Perhaps you decided to avoid setting a goal for a New Year’s Resolution.
The great thing about New Year’s Recovery Resolutions is you can set the restart button every day if necessary. Give yourself permission to start over instead of swimming in shame at not starting yesterday.
You matter. You make a difference. You are worth it.
This year you get to take back your life. You get to show up in a way you have never shown up before. You get to live boldly, bravely, and passionately as your authentic selves free from every single burden that has ever held you back. We are all destined to fly free dear ones. All of us. We are the ones who stand in our own way. We may point the finger at our partners or loved ones or bosses or coworkers or parents or whomever and want to blame them. But we keep ourselves locked in a cage holding the key to our own freedom.
The world has been waiting for you to be bold and brave. All the lessons that have led up to this year have shown you that your fear is just an illusion and you are more than capable of being the beautiful, successful, man or woman or non-binary person that your heart so desires.
I have always loved kaleidoscopes, especially since each time you turn them, the shapes change to form new images-new perspectives.
The changing shapes and design of a kaleidoscope remind me of the importance of being open to another's perspective in sexual or other type of recovery.
Let me start by acknowledging that therapy is hard. It takes a lot of courage and bravery to commit to one's own recovery. With that said, I liken our therapy for sexual recovery to going to a cardiologist; you think you are having chest pains only to find out that you have actually had a heart attack. Meaning, clients often come in thinking their problematic sexual behavior or addictive behavior isn't "that bad" only to learn a different perspective from us, especially once we understand all of their symptoms including the impact, duration, frequency and intensity of their acting out.
Why is it that when we smell certain scents we suddenly feel the emotions associated with a past event? You smell chocolate cookies baking in the oven and are instantly flooded with memories of Grandma’s house when you were young. You smell the delicious aroma of turkey cooking for Thanksgiving and start laughing because you remember the funny joke your uncle shared that made your dad spray his beverage all over the table because he was laughing so hard. Or, at other times, you may find that a smell reminds you of something traumatic or scary in your life. Whatever the situation may be, scents and aromas play an important role in remembering past events in our lives as well as how we heal and recover.
Scents and The Brain: When we breathe in a scent, the scent travels through our nose straight to the Olfactory Bulb in our brain. The Olfactory Bulb then sends the information to different structures that play an important role in processing the information, including the amygdala (responsible for controlling our emotions, emotional behavior, and motivation). The amygdala is part of the limbic system. The limbic system houses different structures, including the hippocampus (responsible for long-term memory), the hypothalamus (responsible for the autonomic nervous system and releasing hormones), and the cingulate gyrus (responsible for blood pressure, heart rate, and attention). So when we smell chocolate chip cooking baking in the oven, we are instantly reminded of Grandmother’s house as a child and start to feel happy, excited, your heart rate increases, and you may even start to salivate in anticipating of eating a chocolate chip cookie. The smell of baking chocolate chip cookies activates the memory of being a small child at Grandma’s house and brings up the emotions associated with that event.