You are moving forward in your recovery when you feel uncomfortable and more alive at the same time.
What doesn’t kill you, still almost killed you. Happy Thought
Recovery and risk
I try to avoid things that could eat me, squash me or otherwise send me into hypothermia. I stay away from bears, speeding semi-trailers and frozen rivers. I don’t avoid everything that is risky, just the things that could do me serious harm or cause a lot of pain.
Some people recover and they need high-adrenaline activities to pull them into a better life. Not me. I don’t need to jump out of a plane to feel more alive. Each of us will do life differently, but we all need to feel some risk. You cannot avoid it. Risk happens when you are trying to live your life. You cannot avoid it.
Recovery means that you have the courage to be wise about the risks that you will experience.
Some people prefer this quote to my quote at the beginning of this post:
What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.Friedrich Nietzsche
The Neitzsche quote sounds tougher and more badass but it’s not how most of us live or recover. Most people need some risk, but not too much. Risk can make you feel more alive, but it can also cause serious injury. Risk and pain can also be a tremendous teacher. Recently my family and I spent most of a week in the mountains, skiing and hiking.
I found out that there are two guarantees about being outside in the mountains: You will feel more alive and you will be uncomfortable. The two go hand in hand… Like milk and Oreo cookies.
- It was inspiring, but we were cold
- We had a lot of fun, but we felt sore afterwards
- We laughed a lot, even though we were out of our routines
- We slipped we fell down… Okay, I slipped and I fell down. But I realized that being on the ground is less fun than walking. You see a lot more when you are upright, but you risk falling down.
- The internet access sucked, but that’s kinda the point of being outside. The wilderness is the best place for true wireless connectivity.
Recovery is like being in the mountains
Recovery is like being in the mountains: You will feel more alive and you will be uncomfortable. Risks happen when you are trying to live your life. But you have to be smart about it.
I don’t know whether you are in the mountains or safe at home with your slippers and warm milk. Wherever you are, you will face at least three different kinds of risks in your recovery:
- Porcupine risks – You will run into people who push your buttons, drive you crazy and make you want to drink, retreat into depression or avoid your emotions.
- Weather risks – You will face emotional storms inside, and outside of yourself. You may become drawn into relationship drama at work or at home. You may experience emotions that feel like a weather storm
- Exposure risks – You will face situations where you are exposed to triggers, stress and anxiety. You will feel out of sorts and out of your routine. At times, you will be out of your comfort zone.
Risk makes you feel more alive, but you will also feel uncomfortable. You know that you are moving forward in your recovery when you feel uncomfortable and more alive at the same time.
Four responses to risk
- Channel Surfing your way through the storms. You may prefer to face risk through a screen. The only weather you allow yourself to feel is courtesy of the Weather Channel. Then you get bored, so you watch The Walking Dead or Sports because they seem more interesting.
It can be difficult to make sense of your emotions and it takes work. There are times that you may decide to not invest the time to understand or to express yourself. It can be easier just to zone out.
- The Meteorologist. Sometimes you can be like a Meteorologist, looking inside and just doing analysis. You prefer the facts and we speak in 15 second sound bytes.
Sometimes you may need to be a Meteorologist because words alone cannot completely describe what you see inside of yourself. Know that even if words are not enough, words can be a start of an important conversation.
- Storm Chasing. It can be fun to grab your rain coat and dive into the heart of the raging bull. But you can get lost in your internal weather system for hours but we might have a hard time summarizing what went on in there.
After diving in, we need time to communicate. Our circumstances and our emotions can be overwhelming. You may need to be patient and accept that we feel awe and respect for our weather system. Inner storms are a form of emotional abstract art.
- Prepared. The best way to handle weather is to have the proper gear. When I am going to the mountains, sometimes it feels like a hassle to plan for what I need, because I just want to get out there and experience it.
A little planning means that you consider what you need. When you have the right kind of food, clothing and shelter, you will relax even though you feel uncomfortable. If the weather changes, or if a disaster happens, you are prepared.
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Photos by smswaby
5 thoughts on “Recovery and Learning to Live With Risk”
Interesting article, Sean. May I ask where these mountain photos were taken. I was in Jasper recently. 🙂
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Photos are all from a Christmas trip that we took to Banff, AB. Most of my mountain pictures, however, are from Jasper as it is the closest National Park to Edmonton, where I live.
Hope you enjoyed Jasper. It is beautiful this time of year.
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I also went at Christmas time to visit my daughter in Edmonton. Jasper and the Muttart Conservatory were the highlights. Hope to go that way again, but flying and airports aren’t very pleasant. I’ve posted photos from both if you care to visit. 🙂
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Olga, I had a look at your site. You feature some excellent poetry. If you can include a link to the photos, I will have a look.
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Thank-you, Sean. Here it is: https://odaciuk.wordpress.com/2017/01/03/ronovan-writes-weekly-haiku-challenge-130-spin-and-water/