I am the one thing in life I can control– Wait for It, Hamilton
I am inimitable I am an original
I’m not falling behind or running late
I’m not standing still
I am lying in wait
I never thought I’d find inspiration about recovery in the Hamilton soundtrack. And yet. This song, Wait for It (lyrics above), really resonated with me. It just goes to show you can find meaning in the strangest of places. So, what struck me about these words? And what on earth do they have to do with mental health recovery? Or more importantly, my recovery?
Fears of Falling Behind
In a previous post I describe my experiences of illness and recovery. In particular, how I felt that everyone else had taken a direct route. Whilst I had run all over the place, tripping as I went. At times I can marvel that, for the most part, I feel like I have ended up in roughly the same place as my peers. But there’s also this insidious whisper that says I’ve fallen behind.
I begin to worry that I’m just holding on. I fear I’m not where I’m supposed to be or who I’m supposed to be. I’ve not achieved what I need to. Or I’ve only done the minimum. That I should have done more. That I should have been stronger or braver. There’s a part of me that rebels against this idea. I recoil at the idea that my illness has held me back in any way. There’s times that it feels that, if this is true, then the illness has won. I hate the feeling of being a victim. Somewhere deep inside I know the pain and energy that it has taken to just be here. Alive.
In this post, to understanding my experiences with anxiety, the path to where I am now has been a steep learning curve. To me, that’s what recovery is. An upward climb where every one step forward may be followed by a hundred backwards. It can be exhausting. Often it seems that I’ve had to put in so much more effort to stop myself falling behind or to the wayside.
Recovery can be incredibly disheartening. There’s a voice inside of me which wonders what’s the point? Whenever I feel like I’m making headway there’s always the spectre of illness. Some days I have to hold on so tight just to stay where I am. To not fall backwards. Or decline. Because that’s the truth of it. If I let go, if I stop fighting, I could get ill again. And then where would I be? What would my life to this point mean? Just a waste of energy and tears.
21st Century Myth
Sometimes all we can do for a period in time is be still. Appreciate where we are and how far we have come. In this world of 24/7 media bombardment, motivational speakers and continuous inspiration. It’s too easy to feel lacking. To feel not enough. Sub par. Unworthy.
And therein lies my greatest fear. Will what I do or who I am ever be enough? If I’m not moving forward than where am I going? I feel the pressure to be climbing ever onward and upwards. If I’m not progressing then what am I doing?
But this is a 21st century myth. Along with other cliches like it’s a ‘dog eat dog world’. It’s great to challenge yourself and achieve the things you want. Smash those glass ceilings with all your might. And once you’ve reached your goals, definitely pick new ones. But make them your own goals. Not ones society tells you to.
Lying in Wait
For this is the true meaning of recovery. Yes, it’s about moving forward. But it’s also about defining the life you want to live. Rather than being told what you should achieve or who you should be. It’s about living your own life. Not someone else’s.
In the word’s of Oscar Wilde:
Be Yourself. Everyone Else is Already TakenOscar Wilde
I don’t need to be ever moving forward. Not taking the next big step isn’t a lack of progress. It’s okay to take time and prepare. To revel in how far you’ve come. To just be. It doesn’t mean you’re letting the fear of failure hold you back. But rather making rational and well thought-out decisions and choices.
So, that’s my new take on my recovery. Sometimes I may be moving forward. But when I’m not. I must remember “I’m not falling behind or running late. I’m not standing still. I’m lying in wait”‘
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Does this make sense for your own recovery? Is it empowering?