I am in Texas at a lovely place called the Sheltering Tree, which is a counselling center that is run and owned by my friend and colleague, Cathy Woodward.
In the back yard of the Sheltering Tree is a fantastic Labyrinth. The Labyrinth is something that is near and dear to my heart, because it’s the perfect metaphor of what recovery really is about. So many of us think that recovery is like entering a maze.
Where there are so many mistakes to be made.
And wrong turns.
And ways in which you get blocked.
But a Labyrinth is something that is very different. Because you see, there are no wrong turns here.
It’s a twisting, winding path.
It’s not the path into something and out of something.
It’s a path that you take to the center of your very being.
And then once you get there, that’s not the end, because you then find your way out.
A Labyrinth has been used since ancient times to symbolize the journeys we take though life, whatever they happen to be. And so, when you enter a Labyrinth, it can at times be very confusing. Very overwhelming. You go, wait a minute, I was just here, and now I…how did I get back here again?
Just like in recovery, you get to a point where you go, wait a minute. I thought I already resolved my issues with my mother. How come I’m back here again?
The truth is, you’re back in it, but you’re in it at a whole different level. You’re in it at a different place. You’re in it with a different kind of understanding. So, as you enter the Labyrinth of Recovery, you make your way towards the center of your very being. Along the way, there are skills that have to be learned. There are ways to learning to work with your feelings and your thoughts, and ways of understanding who you are and how to make sense of the experiences you’ve had in your life — in a whole different way.
But getting there, getting to the center, is really only part of the journey. Because then, once you get to the center of the Labyrinth, there comes the time when you need to exit. And you take with you, all of what you have learned along the way, like how to communicate assertively, how to identify and accept your feelings, and how to question your thoughts and not believe every single thought that comes up in your mind.
You take all of these skills you have learned, and then you start to go back out into the world with them. You get to see what it feels like to be a sensitive being in a world that doesn’t quite know how to teach you how to deal with it. But now you have some skills to help you maneuver through all the things that life sends its way. Because you acquired them on your way — on your way into the center of your very being.
So taking all of this, you can then make your way out into the world, identifying, accepting, expressing your feelings. Questioning your thoughts. Getting clearer and clearer about the essence of who you were, who you are, and getting really clear about what your fate is in life (all of that, which life has given you that you didn’t ask for).
And then, see how that fits with what your destiny is, as you make your way towards who you are meant to become. And what you are here on the planet for in the first place.
So, the idea is that recovery is a labyrinth, not a maze. It’s filled with twists and turns, just as life has twists of fate and things that come unexpectedly.
But here’s the difference, you see. With a labyrinth, all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other. And if you get overwhelmed, if it all seems too much, slow down. And if you begin to feel like, oh this is taking too long, or you’re feeling a little impatient, speed up.
You are in charge of the pace. The idea is, all you really have to do is put one foot in front of another. It will take you to the center of your being … and then taking what you’ve learned on your way in, you’ll get to take it out into the world.
So, be with the Labyrinth that is your life. Know that it’s not a maze. Know that there are no mistakes. No wrong turns. Just putting one foot in front of the other. Until next time.
And so you put one foot in front of the other … moving through the Labyrinth … and coming to another twist … another turn … sometimes they are hairpin turns … and you find your way … you keep going … one foot in front of the other … one step at a time … following along … gathering up all that you need … holding it in your heart … as you continue this journey. This journey through life itself.
How are you doing in your journey of recovery? How have you learned to navigate the twist and turns? Please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear what this brings up for you.
Till next time,