Growing up, I was rather conflicted by religion. As a child I was forced to go to Sunday School, yet God “damned” me on a weekly basis, sometimes twice!
I spent time during my summers visiting my family back in the old country and I stayed with my grandmothers for the first ten years:
One of them was rather mean. Story has it that grandpa came home one night and wanted to snuggle after a long day of working in the fields. Grandma had spent the afternoon with her bottle of wine and pushed him away, causing him to fall off the bed and hit his head in a manner that didn’t allow him to get back up. Mom was 14 at the time and in the next room. She became epileptic six months later due to the trauma of losing her father at such a young age.
The other was incredibly positive and always willing to go out of her way in order to take care of her favorite grandchild (of the day). She cut fresh flowers from her garden weekly and walked 5 km to grandpa’s grave with the bouquet in her arms. She rarely ever accepted a ride when offered and she only missed going when she was too ill to walk. My father’s running joke for years was “for every beating she got, he got a bouquet of flowers”. Yes, grandpa liked his wine as well. He was known to come home and get heavy handed as the fear of the devil was brought onto his eight children.
It was quite the dichotomy in my head. Mom’s mother had an incredibly loving husband (as was reported to me) while being quite nasty to him and everyone else for the rest of her life (except she loved my father, who could do no wrong in her eyes). Dad’s mom had been the recipient of her husband’s abuse for decades. After his death, I was about four years old, I knew her to be an incredibly accepting and grateful woman. I could be damned by Grandma #1 in the morning and then be praised with some kind of biblical line by Grandma #2 in the afternoon.
In my house, there was a lot of belief in a God, but none in themselves, or me for that matter. I didn’t care and was averse to any kind of organized religion. I did have a hunch though. I had this feeling in my gut every time I was doing something “wrong” and a similar feeling when I knew that all was going to be “OK”.
It was during my first year in recovery that I actually paid mind to what was going on. What did any of this mean and why did it even matter? Well, after almost 30 years of detrimental behaviors, self loathing and poor self esteem, I discovered the need to believe in myself, regardless of exterior forces. I either changed or it was off to the point of no return. I either wanted to live or I wanted to die. Somehow the moment arrived when the portal to the proverbial black hole shut tight for me.
All of a sudden I focused on taking the next “right step” as grandma would often suggest that I “lead out the front door with your right foot as you look up at the sky and acknowledge our father”. My version was to just thank the Universe for the opportunity to live and become a better version of myself. I am grateful that I got to spend some time with these two women who passed so much onto our world. I never looked back.
So now how do you go about believing in yourself? Where is your strength and courage summoned from? When it’s three AM, you can’t sleep and the Devil is tugging at you, who do you call?
First of all, stopping and breathing is an immense lifeline. Just sitting still and taking deep breathes, sending the breathe to whatever part of your body could benefit most. Quiet your mind. Maybe having some kind of mantra that you repeat can be helpful. Anything that you like saying or helps you settle down is OK. It can be as simple as “It’s OK” or “s l o o o w do o o w n”. You don’t have to believe in anything, you can just go sit with nature somewhere, even if it’s just the park down the street where squirrels or pigeons are around.
If you’re being honest with yourself and truly doing the best that you can, then you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that there is nothing else you can do for that one moment. You can then put your energy into the next moment.. The acceptance that comes from this is priceless. From there comes the belief that you’re going to be OK. That itself is believing.
There’s an acronym coming from the word HOPE that helped me out a few years back as well. Hearing other people’s experience. In surrounding myself with people who seemed at one point “hopeless” (as was I), and seeing them slowly grow and change their realities was crucial as well. All of a sudden, “If so and so can do this, then I can as well”, and in that moment, I too believed.
Focusing on a positive point while practicing your deep breathing can bring one to a peaceful state, leading you towards believing that whatever it may be can get you through the hard moments.
I believe that everyone has the ability to recover, regardless of the circumstances. I believe in doing the best I can for the ones around me. I believe there is good in everyone. I believe in YOU.
If you find this post helpful to you or someone you love, then feel free to leave a comment, like it and share it with your community. Love Life Today. THiS ReCoVeRY LiFE.