Facing Recovery: Judgment is Illusive | Love is the Key

Who are any of us to judge whether something is good or bad for another individual? I realize we all have our opinions of what's right or wrong; however, if we're brutally honest about 'it', these are based on what we deem to be good, bad, right or wrong ...... when it comes to what works for us! Yes, there are cultural beliefs; yet, let's face it, they began when someone said many years ago: 'Hey! That's not a good idea OR I think that behavior should be punished!' .. and, and, and .... you get the idea.

I have wrestled with these thoughts for a very long time, and while walking and listening to music, I saw steam billowing from a stack into an already cloudy sky as I heard, 'make your mark in the world'. I thought of all the people that make a point to empower this in their own way every day as well as those that don't believe they are or ever will. I then flashed to a collective desire to 'end the stigma' around addiction and mental health and became present to the feeling of public judgment. What's more, I recalled the countless inspiring smiles on social media and wondered about the self-judgment they contend with or is it just me that experiences moments of empowerment while managing cultural beliefs?!

Morals describe what is right and wrong, whereas values explain important behaviour and beliefs of a person or group. Morals are then based on the belief and understanding of those values. (definition courtesy of reference.com)

I find this definition an intriguing point to consider. Over the years, I made decisions that were deemed 'bad and wrong'. As a child, I was called a 'bad' girl along with other judgmental adjectives. Given our collective interpretation of morals and values and my understanding of me, I simply experienced life in ways that served me at the time. Now, I know how selfish this may sound and allow me to caution you with that judgment. Again, brutal honesty illuminates the fact that this is the only way anyone navigates life. Even if someone is faced with an ultimatum; the decision that's carried out is what was meant to be experienced. This includes a horrible act that results in murder and / or death. Please keep in mind, I am not condoning such behavior, nor am I saying murder is good; I'm merely suggesting that the people involved made decisions that made sense to them at the time that put them in the position to have that experience. There is nothing good, bad, right or wrong about it; it is just an experience. What unfolds from there also has something to offer not only the people immediately involved but those hearing about it. You see, everything contributes to our existence, individually as well as collectively.

Do certain behaviors elicit attention? Of course they do, both immediate and deeper, personal reflection; however, they do not need to be judged as mistakes, screw ups, blah, blah, blah. In my opinion, a much more prudent way to looking at something is by determining if it worked or didn't. 

I realize this can be rather tricky given the level of issues we have in our world. I also understand the need for various interventions. At the same time, I recognize the fact that it may sound like I frequently speak of an ideal world. What if this is the ideal world? What if, our experiences are perfect in the sense that they are a call to action ... a reminder call of who we really are; that if we started navigating life through observation rather than judgment, we could actually create magnanimous shifts AND support each other in the process?!

Years ago, I became involved in addictive behaviors which included disordered eating, drugs and alcohol. What's interesting, we don't punish someone with an eating disorder; although, our perspective of them is riddled with countless judgments. On the other hand, drug and alcohol use is seen as criminal behavior; so, look at that, I went from being a bad girl to a criminal in the minds of many; however, not on paper. What's worse, a lot of people thought I didn't want for much, was an underachiever, weak, unable to make good or wise choices ... oh, and out of control! I'm sure there's more and this is enough of a start .... Essentially, I was living a bad life. While there is a lot of validity to the potential harm that could arise, was this really bad OR was it what I needed at the time? From my point of view, then and now, it was exactly what I needed to sit here and write this today. 

Without going into significant detail, I was born anxious, experiencing IBS symptoms by the time I was 5 and learned, rather rapidly, how to emotionally react to the world. Life was intense and I had some strict expectations all of which defined a rather high-strung, control freak. I was anything BUT an underachiever or our of control. In my mind, I was white knuckling life in order to look a certain way, show up as needed and be totally confident that I could achieve whatever I desired. In other words, I was experiencing the exact opposite of what I was told I wouldn't or couldn't; so in my mind, I was doing good while everyone else couldn't see the good for the bad. Now, I am beyond thankful that I survived and at that same time. it worked for me ...  How you might ask? I experienced myself as together and empowered .... I felt good about me! So, for as long as it did, I can say life worked. I don't have to tell you that plenty of other people thought differently and did everything they could to punish and correct me without any success until ....... the ONE action that turned good into bad and shifted life from working into not.

You see, judgment is a perspective with bipolar effects, creating extremes in thinking and behaviors. Someone once said to me, 'Think of life like you think about broccoli; neutral. You know it's good for you, you just don't get overly excited or disappointed .. it just comes down to a basic 'yes' or 'no'' (honestly, this person didn't know how much I like broccoli and you get the point). Obviously, this thought stuck with me but it really did get me rethinking the way I judge others which deepened my journey of self-love. Truthfully, I realized that in order for me to be who I knew I could be, I had to come to terms with the disparaging thoughts I had of myself in order to be genuinely kind and understanding of others. The interesting thing here is I would never have gotten to know me if I hadn't faced addiction. 

For years, I've been saying that dis-ease is a Divine message with the overarching one being connection. As for individual meaning, that's up to the person interpreting it for his or herself. I was accused of being selfish; in many ways, I was. However, in order to be selfless, we must be selfish. Addiction is, by all rights, a dis-ease. It is a personal journey and even though I know we feel great concern for those we love, we must accept the fact that what they are doing isn't bad or wrong, it's what they need. Maybe instead of judging our friends, family and community members or even ourselves, we would do well to ask such things as: 'Is there anything you need; Is there anything you feel is missing; How are you, really and so on. Of course, these questions vary depending on the individual, relationship and even the dynamic. This needs to be a safe experience because from my perspective, people in active addiction do not feel safe. Quite frankly, I don't believe a lot of people feel safe within themselves; yet, the point of this post is to provide some insight into addiction as well as demonstrate the dire need for inner safety for everyone involved. 

Yes, many people wear the mask of empowerment; yet, how many of them face self-judgment or even worried about what other people think. This is, in fact, the reason I write this. Addiction creates an illusion while being meaningful. To enter into recovery is scary as it is a vulnerable position to be in, plus, what if everyone is right about us? So, my question is: what would it take for us to become real with our thoughts and feelings? My suspicion is many people say and do things as a reaction to what's coming at them and even though the words sound good, the energy / beliefs behind it are disingenuous, which is sensed and reacted too. Trust me, I know there are plenty of well-meaning people and I don't begrudge anyone from saying or doing whatever the hell they want ... I'm merely suggesting we consider the energy behind what we're about to say or do before acting on it. I learned this first hand with all of my actions. Yes, you could reference 'hindsight' but why. It's my life. I get to decide whether I want to do something again or roll onto what's next. It's that simple. My road through recovery has been riddled with bumps because for all my 'good intentions' I still considered myself a bad girl. The funny thing is, it was all an illusion ... I am me. No one can take that away. While people living with addiction know the harm their causing, it's not what you think it is ... it's what they need it to be. To help them, we must take the time to understand that they are no different than us (I've also watched family members struggle) ... they are vulnerable human beings that just want to love and be loved. And this my friend, is how you can make your mark on the world. Be the love you wish to see.