I was sitting in an AA big book meeting roughly a year ago. I opened the cover and scribbled on the first page read "willingness without action is fantasy." The quote hit me in the stomach. Sometimes we need that in recovery...a wake up call. The quote found me at exactly the right time. Since grad school I had been saying that I wanted to start my own private practice but somewhere along the way I found comfort and security in my job at a drug and alcohol rehab center. I had steady pay, plenty of support and the comfort of knowing that I would always have a steady stream of clients. Being in private practice is...vulnerable. People cancel, they relapse, they no-show, they get angry, and you don't have a larger institution to support and protect you when things get messy. I've learned vulnerability is messy, as is anything worth having in life.
So there I am sitting at a meeting on a Friday night with truth staring me right in the face. It begged the question, the dream of opening a private practice would remain, just that, a fantasy, without action. The very next day I created a plan for how my private practice could become a reality in one year. I set a date and I began sharing this with other people and began to learn what it would actually take. The truth is, it doesn't matter how willing we are, if we put it on a dream board or meditate about it if we are not taking action. Don't get me wrong, I'm a proponent of all such things, its just that wanting it is not sufficient for actually making it happen. The entire point of manifestation is to put us in a space where we are willing to take action and new opportunities to act open up for us.
While I may be talking about something that is more of a luxury, I am clear that this quote applies to all parts of our life. When we are struggling, its easy to be willing. We say we will do anything to get better, to feel better, to not keep repeating our destructive patterns. Then, we take action. And guess what? Things get better. But somewhere along the way we lose our willingness. Saying that we are willing or "being" willing makes no difference. It is only through ACTION that things can move forward. So my invitation to you today is, whether you are struggling with something such as depression, anxiety, or an addiction, or you are simply looking to take the next step in your life, as yourself... what actions am I taking? If the answer is none, get real with yourself...I ask you, what is it going to take?
So here's the truth- as I reflect on the completion of my latest trip around the sun, it's amazing how different I expected my life to be and even more amazing how much BETTER it turned out. Nothing in my life turned out as planned and now I'm so grateful for that.
By this time in my life, I expected to be engaged to an investment banker who sipped dry martinis, played football in college and summered in the Hamptons. I was obsessed with having a life that looked perfect. Until recently, I was convinced that if I had all the external trappings of a happy and successful life, I would be happy. However, I also knew it wasn't exactly cool to be outwardly desperate for a perfect life, so I pretended to be coy about it. That not only made me a slave to social media but also never satisfied as I was never present for my life. Instead I lived in a perpetual fantasy.. "when I have, fill in the blank- a boyfriend, more friends, a thinner body, a nicer wardrobe- THEN I will be happy."
Thankfully my life fell apart rapidly by the end of college, which landed me in a position to get sober and find recovery from my eating disorder. At the time, this was the worst thing that could have ever happened to me. My life was over as I knew it and I had many moments where I couldn't imagine living without drinking nor was I interested in living that life. I remember having to actually grieve the loss that I would never be able to meet a cool handsome guy over drinks at the Plaza or go wine tasting at a picturesque vineyard in Napa with my beautiful girlfriends. The truth is, having my life fall apart, having everything I knew and wanted stripped away from me was the best thing that ever happened to me. To be the epitome of a cliche of my generation, I'm going to quote J.K Rowling: "rock bottom became the solid foundation from which I rebuilt my life." So that's what I did. Stone by stone and brick by brick.
The last few years have not been easy or simple (more on that in other blog posts to come). There were honestly many days where I wanted to give up, probably did on some level, or even made things worse. Self sabotage is a huge part of my story and something that still comes back to haunt me sometimes. However, when I look back now, I wouldn't trade any struggle, stumble or misstep. They all led me here....exactly where I'm supposed to be. And the life I have now, the one where I'm a therapist and yoga teacher who spends her free time reading self help/ spiritual books, talking to my parents on the phone and attending personal development programs (all very UNCOOl), I wouldn't trade for ANYTHING. I never imagined I could be so fulfilled and my life being so meaningful. The greates gift of my recovery today is not my boyfriend, job, or vacations I take, the greatest gift is that I can sit outside on a beautiful day and smile at a stranger. I can look my barista in the eye and feel connected rather than wanting not to crawl out of my skin. I have peace today, and I wouldn't trade that for anything.
So here's my wisdom this week for you...life will DEFINITELY throw you obstacles. Things will absolutely NOT go as planned. I'm sure my life will keep not going as planned too (don't you worry I have not and will never arrive). At the time it may feel as though the world is against you... and in those moments all you can do is surrender and keep the faith. You don't need to understand what's happened or why. Lean into the discomfort and trust that the universe has your back. Not just that, but I have a sneaky suspicion that the universe has a better plan for your life than you do!