• David Sales

The Work

Breathe. Dig in. Breathe. Do the work. Repeat.

A person I care about deeply would often say about the work of recovery, "It never ends."

She is right. As I continue my own journey toward a new life, I expect the unexpected, and with an increasing self-awareness, working through each new phase with Jennifer hasn't become easier... just more clearly defined. Another rock turns over, exposing another hidden wound, causing the beginning of another trudge toward a specific healing, and another period of digging in and getting through it. For me, that is the work.

We all define work differently and I have had to change my definition of it in order to save my life. While the work I am currently engaged in provides next to nothing in monetary gain, when placing a life saving value on it, this work is more important than anything I could do. While I would rather choose anything else to invest my time in, I know I can't do anything if I'm dead. When one lives, rather than just stays alive, there are going to be times when this work must be all-consuming. That is today's truth.

I accept where I am at. I didn't enter this with blind naivety. I knew this would be awfully disgusting work. I have spent much of my life burying all these bodies of emotional wreckage and choosing to exhume them, in all their varying stages of decomposition, would take everything I have and it is. My skeletons aren't in my closet. I have to dig them up, autopsy them, cremate them, and throw their ashes into the healing winds of self-forgiveness. One after another, day after day.

While engaged in this work, I am frustrated by my inability to do anything else, at least with any reasonable level of success. I feel like I am operating at about 30%. I am mentally tired, slow, and unable to concentrate. Mundane tasks exhaust me. The simple act of satisfying my basic human needs takes much longer, and my desire to isolate is constant.

Selfishly, these are the times I wish I wasn't alone. I'm not lonely - there is a difference. I have friends, family, and a support system for which I am grateful... but I am, in the most intimate sense, alone. I'm not whining, I think it is quite normal to crave emotional intimacy, especially during difficult times. I believe it would be unkind to judge that part of me that is feeling this lonesomeness. Learning to have empathy for all my different parts has allowed me to care more deeply for myself, and I wouldn't have come this far without gaining this skill. It's not the only change that has happened either.

While I am in this uncomfortable place today, I have also finally experienced the passing of such times. I never believed that things would pass. Maybe I never gave it enough time before, but I know this now. It won't be like this forever, and I can cling to that when times are tough.

I know time is in control. This may last weeks and there is little I can do to speed it along. Jennifer often reminds me that slow is fast and I spend my conscious time reminding myself of this. I have also learned that the best thing I can do is to be kind to myself, cut myself some slack, and accept my diminished capacity to function. Back to the basics I go, knowing that this too shall pass.

While the work of acknowledging, overcoming, and healing may not end, these times do.

Breathe. Dig in. Breathe. Do the work. Repeat.