Springtime is supposed to be a time of renewal, a time of beautiful awakenings; a time of enlightening rebirth. The flowers begin to bloom, the trees and bushes begin to develop signs of new growth. A variety of birds chirp each morning awakening us to the newness of each day. The sky is mostly blue, the sun is mostly out; and amidst the sporadic rainstorms, we are enveloped by a cool and familiar breeze.
Everything around us feels fresh.
Except our recovery ....
Why is that? Why is it that in the Springtime, folks' recovery tends to feel like it is in a rut, or takes some weird and unusual downward spiral, which often includes lapsing, "edging", or even a full blown relapse?
For one thing, emotions tend to be heightened in the Springtime. I recently visited my regular acupuncture place (Qiworkscommunityacupuncture.com-check it out it's fabulous) in Salt Lake City. My acupuncturist asked me if I was feeling angry. I was a bit bewildered by this as I didn't think I came across as such. I was also surprised by my response when I said matter of factly, "Why yes, yes I have felt really angry lately." She chuckled as she gently smiled and whispered, "Everyone seems to be angry right now. This is not a surprise, since anger is the emotion of Spring."
My mouth dropped in surprise. After all, I had always had a vision of Springtime being what I previously described (as a kid I added rainbows and unicorns to my Springtime fantasy). I thought Springtime was supposed to be about rebirth and renewal. Not anger.
But indeed, a lot of people enter Springtime with an anxious, irritable energy that ends up turning into anger, dis-ease (or literal disease), discomfort, sadness; for some, suicidality. A lot of folks struggle to deal with these challenging emotions; they don't have the healthy resources or support to process though them. Therefore, many people find themselves engulfed in various addictive behavior. This can entail abusing substances, abusing porn, over-spending, over-eating, over-exercising, checking out on social media, cheating, flirting with disaster, being addicted to chaos, working too much, all of the above.
A lot arises in the Spring. From a physical standpoint, and I learned this from both my acupuncturist and Namasté's very own Functional Medicine Practitioner Cari Junge, our bodies have built up toxins from the winter months. Therefore, in the Springtime (and Fall too) it is good to "cleanse"physically, but naturally we must cleanse mentally and emotionally as well. We release both emotionally and physically what no longer serves us. Hence why we do spring cleaning; often we do it literally in our households without realizing that our physical and emotional "house" needs to be cleansed too.
In our relationships, we tend to experience a weird type of springtimefunk too. Especially in intimate relationships, we may notice that we bicker more than usual. Maybe it is over silly things or past issues, but tension abounds. Communication can seem challenging among our loved ones with a lot of misunderstanding. This may include some passive aggressive or even aggressive interactions. We may notice that we are irritated at small things that our partner does that typically don't matter so much; however, right now they drive us crazy. We may find ourselves searching for flaws in our relationship instead of cherishing the little things in our partner that made us grow to love them in the first place. Our sexual and non-sexual intimacy may decrease as well; sometimes it may feel almost awkward and we can't pinpoint why.
All of this is pretty typical in the Springtime. What is essential during this time is to pay attention to our reactions. Especially since typical or not, our responses to these challenging emotions and triggers may not be very healthy, leading many people to act out during the Spring.
Getting back to basics in one's recovery and healing is essential. This, above all, will help to improve one's mood as well as their relationships.
Getting back to basics entails the following:
- Review your successes in recovery and in your relationship. There are more successes than you may even realize! Notice the small wins as much as the big ones (i.e., we cooked dinner together and laughed tonight; I stayed sober one more day; I didn't over spend today; I came home on time from work). Reviewing/reflecting is best done by journalling. So many people balk at journalling, but I swear by it. Writing our thoughts down in the quiet of the morning or evening is truly healing. We get answers that we would never get if we didn't take time to get quiet and connect with our inner peace. Do it!
- Cleanse! Believe it or not, there are healthy cleanses out there. By physically cleansing, we give our emotional body an opportunity to cleanse too. I always had a view of cleansing being starvation or diet-related which I wasn't into until I met Cari and learned that cleansing truly can be healing to our bodies, cells, organs, etc (firstname.lastname@example.org). Best thing I have ever done to clear out the physical (and emotional) crud and feel fresh/new (a guided cleanse with a professional is recommended).
- Practice being present with your partner. Mindfulness often misunderstood. It doesn't only entail meditation; it entails being in the moment. We get so caught up with work/school/kid demands that we often get home and check out via t.v., social media, kids homework, staring at a wall. By taking time to connect with our partners, even if it is at the beginning of our day and the end of our night, keeps the foundation of our relationship solid.
- S.O.S. This means Skin on Skin, as my colleague, CSAT and relationship expert, author Pat Love, Ed. so poignantly explains. This is essential for staying connected in our love relationships. Non-sexual touching is so important in relationships. A kiss, a hug, a touch keeps us connected. After all, we are wired for connection; without it we literally die (attachment theory).
- For those who are in therapy for an addiction/aversion-getting back to basics means pulling out our basic tools and reviewing them. Review your cycle, and the interventions you have learned in treatment. Commit to self-intervening. Review your relapse scenarios and discuss it in therapy and group. Review your Personal Craziness Inventory and Boundaries List (Carnes, P., Facing the Shadows, 2015). Stay honest; when we talk about what is going on, we stay out of cycle! Re-commit yourself to do the basic things you did in the beginning of your recovery to get back on track. They work!
Springtime definitely brings up a lot for people, but it doesn't have to cause as much havoc as we historically have allowed. By tuning into our bodies, our minds, and our hearts, we make it easier to tune into our loved ones and those around us.
Sit. Stay. Heal. --Pema Chodron.... Beautiful, simple words for this glorious time of rebirth, renewal, re-awakening.
As always, precious ones, know that you are SO worth it.
Picture: by recovery101blog.wordpress.com
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