Wednesday was my last day in partial hospitalization. It was a surprise. I went to the scheduled appointment with my counselor to talk about my progress and the work I’d been doing on my discharge plan. When I asked him when he thought I might be ready to leave the program, he said, “I’m thinking today.” I took a deep breath, swallowed hard, and said, “Okay.”
Because I know recovery isn’t about feeling perfect or feeling done. It’s about practicing new behaviors in spite of how I feel. It’s about The Work.
Every morning in the group, we filled out a plan for the day. It included things like errands and chores, what we planned for exercise and relaxation. We kept track of our sleep patterns, listed things we were grateful for that day, and our successes. But at the top of the page, we rated how we were functioning. On a scale of 1-10, we noted how well we were able to perform our daily tasks, not how we felt. That distinction was important. Emotions, moods, and thoughts changing like the weather can make a person feel dysfunctional. Noting objectively that we got out of bed, ate breakfast and washed the dishes, drove to group, and made plans to see a friend afterward proves that we can still operate in the world even if we don’t feel like it in the moment. What we do matters.
And while I feel much more stable emotionally, it’s a high pressure system that comes and goes. The practices I put into place and actually perform every day will help me weather what comes next. And next. And next.
And there’s a lot of Work to do. It’s mostly planning and monitoring, but it’s also reinventing myself as a social creature. I’ve written here about my tendency toward isolation, my resistance and anxieties where other people are concerned. So, I’m trying something different. I’m attempting to let go of my old notions of Support Systems, Intimacy, and Soul-Matedness, and simply ask people to Play with me. I plan something I want to do (like see the new X-Men movie or go for a walk) and just invite others to join me. No huge expectation. No smoldering resentment or disappointment. Just play. And it’s amazing to me how easy this is. Simple. For a mind that complicates and twists on a regular basis, simple is good. Real good.
As part of my discharge planning, I have a list of goals for the next 30 days. These will determine the nature of my practice for now. And they will also help me make these changes into habits that, hopefully, will carry into whatever weather the future holds.
It’s up to me.
It always is.
I’m on an Adventure.