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Celebrating My Rewired Hamster Wheel

Recently, life has decided to put my brain training to the test.

I honestly can't remember if it was my first or second trip to the PIER for detox. Still, either way, one of my first early recovery eye-opening experiences was during a guided meditation at one of those 5-day stays. Knowing myself, I imagine I wasn't feeling great and most likely had a poor attitude toward doing something other than chain-smoking cigarettes. But it wasn't too long into the experience that I started to notice something. As the instructor was guiding me through a process of being aware of my breathing and eventually my whole body piece by piece, I realized all the chaos in my head had started to quiet. Since then, quieting the chaos has been invaluable to my recovery. Just knowing that it was something I could control was a revelation. In-patient residential treatment gave opportunities to learn more about meditating and breathing techniques in general. Luckily for me, I have been able to find ways that work best for me in my life to accomplish the same goal. Most of the time all it takes is a car ride with some music or a session on the lawn mower to get refocused. If it's really bad, I can usually get things under control with some focused breathing.

But the real reason it all works is the constant awareness of my state of mind. Ever since someone talked to me about the hamster wheel in my head, that visual has become such an important part of my self-care that I refer to it almost every day. The way my brain works, if there's something I'm having an issue with, the way I was always used to handling it was to keep it in my head and my head alone and I'll figure it out. But as it turns out, I have a hamster up there, spinning all that shit around, making it worse and worse because it just stays up there stirring and getting angry. The trick is to get it out of there and into the world. I have to have people around me I trust with my vulnerable side because I can't just let all my feelings go just to have them used against me and things like that. This is another opportunity for me to hit on the importance of community. I've heard over and over in my life that the people you surround yourself with are important and for me, in recovery, it's paramount.

Things have been difficult in my personal life lately, just like before, but the difference is that I know how to handle it now. Or at least I'm continuing to improve in that area. I'm able to make healthy decisions because I know what the other path leads to, and I've tested those options to completion. And having a solution that actually works is what I have been searching for all along. Talk about how I'm feeling with people that I trust, listen to any advice that's offered, and find time to get quiet and listen to myself and the universe to guide me forward from there. It's working so far.

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