''To the average person, hope may seem like mere wishing. But think for a minute what your life would be like without hope in the future. Without something specific to look and build toward, the present becomes utterly painful. In this frenetic nightmare, you feel there is no control or escape from a downward spiral. Without hope, motivation is impossible. You can’t be motivated toward action or outcome with zero hope in its possibility.''
Be your future self now by Dr Benjamin Hardy.
I couldn't pick myself out of the hole I felt I was in. The worst thing was it wasn't a hole of my making. I was trying to rescue other people and fell in. I didn't realise in my attempts to help them I was digging myself in deeper. All the time my hope in these situations, in myself and in my own life was disappearing fast. I hit my own rock bottom over and over because you don't just hit it once. I had no hope to get myself out.
I don't know where I saw the light, the glimmer of hope that was offered to me. Sometimes I think perhaps the glimmer of light I saw was my own soul. The strength that was always in me peeping out giving me a helping hand. Perhaps it was life presenting me with a thread of hope to take the first step out of the place I was in. Whatever it was I grasped it with both hands and let it guide me. It felt like I was crawling out of this space but nevertheless the first step was taken.
That glimmer of hope took me to Al Anon. I found like-minded people who understood what I was going through. A community that was non-judgemental and focused on their own recovery. Key words here are ‘their own’ recovery not others. I cannot control other people's actions, I’m not superhuman. It’s all about acceptance. I can hope they will get better but building my faith that no matter what I will be OK (work in progress).
Placing hope in situations where your happiness and well-being depend on another's recovery is dangerous. It's not selfish to be OK and want to be better than OK. What if I could still, actually thrive in my own life?
The situations I have been in (and my health journey) highlight to me even more how precious life is and how moments matter. I want to experience all the wonderful things life has to offer me. Of course, I wish certain things hadn't happened. I wish with all my heart that the people I love weren’t in pain.
However, hope comforts me and whispers to me that I will be OK, because I am alive. To me that means I get another day, another chance to try again. I am here and whilst I am, I have another chance to experience happiness and joy. I will take that.
I won't waste this gift. Even in my sadness and grief. Even on the days when life is so physically overwhelming and fibromyalgia is flaring, that all I can do is lie on the sofa with a soft blanket. Hope is always there. Some days her voice is quiet others it’s loud. I have removed my hope in being placed in people who don’t need the pressure of my hopeful expectations.
Just to clarify I think having expectations and hope in people isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, in certain situations like addiction it’s important for me to have a strong foundation in myself. So I have something to draw on when times call for it.
If you feel like your hope is thin on the ground these days observe nature. It’s one of my simple favourite activities to do because she is the best teacher. Looking at nature reminds us of hope every day. The sun always rises and shines. We don't doubt our next breath. The seasons change and we have faith this will happen. Things always grow again after winter.
Let’s cultivate hope like it's a seed we've planted. It probably wouldn't just be left there to fend for itself. Normally the seed would be watered and nurtured. Any weeds surrounding it would be removed. What if we viewed hope as the same? Gently removing the things that kill our hope.
One of the things that I realised wasn’t helpful to me was my inner voice which was more critical and guilt shamed me. I am learning with time, patience, awareness and practise to calm this voice down and be kinder to myself. All of this is a work in progress and that is ok. Hope is a flame that burns inside us and it’s up to us to feed it and nurture it.
How do I nurture my hope?
By focusing on my own healing.
Seeking support for myself.
Being in nature.
Knowing that it is a practise and somedays are easier than others.
On the days it feels challenging that is ok too. Sometimes, giving space to your feelings is what’s needed.
Hope is the thing with feathers
BY EMILY DICKINSON
“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all
And sweetest in the Gale is heard
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm
I’ve heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest Sea
Yet never in Extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
You can catch Al-Anon on Black Country Xtra Radio. A new 1 hour monthly show comes out on the last Friday of every month and is then repeated every Friday in the month at 3pm.
https://nacoa.org.uk/ (For children of alcoholics).
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