“it does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.” -Confucius
I have always been an impatient person. When my sister was born, my mother used to joke that if we were flowers, she would be a black eyed susan and I would be an impatien. I feel like I’m constantly moving, waiting for the next thing to happen, and excited by possibilities for change while being frustrated at the slow rate.
In mental health and addiction recovery, change is slow. It’s a very frustrating business on both ends, counselor and client. Most times, our behavioral patterns have been in place for years and years, built from childhood experiences and thoughts, reinforced by years of adulthood. To change our habits and to change our deepest beliefs about ourselves, others and the world, beliefs that have been built for decades, may also take decades. It is a slow process in its nature.
From the outside, change seems simple, and it’s my contention this is where much of our frustration stems from as friends and family members of those with issues, or those of us who struggle with issues ourselves. Our failures are large and often visible, and our successes are ordinary and small. It’s rare to celebrate another day sober or another day out of the hospital, but each time we slip looms large. At times, it becomes hard to remember why we wanted to start changing in the first place.
It is at these times when I go back to one of my favorite quotes, reminding me that recovery takes time. Changing behavior takes time. It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results; however, we have learned from hard experience how to move in our world, and to move differently is uncomfortable, frightening and usually takes time to catch on. Our small successes build on each other. It takes 365 small, ordinary days out of the hospital to make one year.
Take some time to forgive yourself today. Forgive yourself if you’ve slipped, if you kept the lessons from your life, even when you wanted to change. Just don’t stop trying. It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.