Hi Friends! Welcome to Episode Twelve of the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery. Here we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles. My name is Tamara and I will be your host. Today we are talking about: Sober Solitude. We all may not live alone, but we do all have times of solitude. The question is: How are we using our solitude?
I began contemplating this question last night as I was retiring. You see earlier yesterday I had a stressful conversation with a co-worker. After that conversation I had several hours of solitude before my husband returned home. During those hours I was dealing with some emotional pain that resulted from the stressful conversation. As it’s been my habit for most of my adult life, I ran from the emotional pain to a television program on Netflix.
A few hours later, when preparing for sleep, I thought about my behavior that evening. I had once again wasted some precious time of solitude.
Why did I fall into that old pattern? Why did I allow my mind to dwell on a past conversation that couldn’t be changed? Why did I insist on using my time to imagine future events, which encouraged even more anxious thoughts?
And if that wasn’t enough wasting of my time, I numbed out on social media and on an old television program.
There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with realities outside and above us. ~ Thomas Merton
Until we spend time, sober time, (free from any mind and emotion numbing substance or activity) and get to the root of why we are running from our feelings, our addictive behaviors will just switch from one to another.
I recall a story about a grandmother who had her 4-year-old grandson with her in church. As with most young children, he was fidgeting, squirming and kept standing up when he was supposed to be sitting down during the sermon. The grandmother quietly disciplined the boy and he reluctantly sat down. After which he remarked to his grandmother, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside.”
Isn’t that how it is with most of us?
God has convicted me of a behavior that may have at its root an emotional wound from childhood. Rather than dealing with the root issue, I insist on ignoring the potential emotional growth time available to me in solitude, and instead avoid the feelings once more. Like the grandson, I may be sitting down (free from alcohol and drugs on the outside) but I’m standing up on the inside by continuing to use other behaviors to numb my emotional pain.
So I made a decision to remove Netflix from my Smartphone. This keeps the mind-numbing habit further than a click away. I will be far less likely to turn on the actual television to watch a program.
Before I close today I want to make mention of this week’s lesson at Celebrate Recovery which was on Relapse. One of the most important things I learned to help prevent relapse is the process of taking a Heart Check during my daily inventory. The acrostic for the word HEART asks: Am I…