When I think of the word “detox,” what typically springs to mind is either drinking or dieting.
For example, let’s say I may have thought that third shot of scotch was a great idea last night around 9pm when I was worn out from my day, work, the news, all things pandemic.
But then this morning I realize it wasn’t as great an idea as it seemed at the time.
This is a very minor level of detox, I realize.
On a more major level, I have more than 20 years of recovery from anorexia and bulimia under my belt, and another decade helping others in recovery from similarly life-threatening eating patterns.
This is a much more major level of detox.
Very recently, after what honestly feels like the greater part of a life steeping in all things recovery, I learned something new about the process of detox.
It can happen with emotions and emotional patterns too.
Every time I get to a point in my life where I start thinking “I got this,” that is usually about the same moment another layer of my personal onion gets peeled back.
Perhaps this is also why I’ve never much cared for onions.
And given that I’ll be reaching my 50th birthday at the end of this year (O.M.G. how did I get so old so fast?!?), I suppose I should have seen this particular layer coming.
But I didn’t. It pounced just like all the other layers and over the last few weeks I have just started feeling worse and worse and worse, like I just swallowed a bunch of heavy bricks.
When people say depression hurts – physically – they deserve to be taken seriously.
So I decided to share some of this stuck-ness with my life and business coach, Christine Kane, during our group call this week.
Christine is a fellow eating disorder survivor, a fellow singer-songwriter and a fellow student of life who has also become my mentor and teacher. So when she told me that re-routing old negative emotional-mental (brain-based) patterns is a type of detox, I took her seriously.
I take her seriously. I know that when it comes to all things detox and recovery, Christine has the street credit – the personal life experience – to speak with authority.
In one of her talks, Christine describes her own process of attempting to shift her traditional negative thought patterns towards new, healthier, more positive thought patterns like having to wake up each day and – all by herself mind you – power-lift a huge steel door, move it from one section of her house to another, reinstall it in the new location and then open it up to see a new fresh vista.
This is how it feels to me too.
It feels like detox. Like jonesing for a fix – anything to put off doing the hard work or even thinking about doing the hard work for just a little bit longer. Like thinking a third scotch (or even a second or first scotch) is a great idea even though you’ve tried that same great idea about a zillion times now and it never works out like you expect it to.
It feels like that time last summer when I was driving up to Dallas to meet my friend for a camping trip. I missed my exit and got caught in a lot of construction. So I decided to pull out of the line of cars onto the unpaved grassy area next to the road and try to back my way up to the exit.
You can probably already sense where this story is headed.
We had just recently endured torrential rains. That innocent-looking patch of ground turned out to be a mud wallow of immense proportions. So right in front of an endless line of impatient, grumpy fellow drivers, I got my Toyota thoroughly stuck in the mud.
No matter what I tried, backing up, reversing, shifting into overdrive, jumping up and down in the seat while screaming at my tires to MOVE ALREADY, I just stayed stuck (while turning about 40 shades of reddish-purple in total embarrassment and self-hate).
Finally, not one but two other motorists pulled up beside me and helped me pull my car out of the mud.
That is what it has felt like lately trying to get un-stuck from the mud wallow of negativity I’ve been trapped in for the last few weeks.
And it isn’t lost on me that I probably need (yet another) reminder that it is hard to get un-stuck all by myself, especially when the pattern I am now trying to get un-stuck from started long before I was aware I was even starting a pattern.
Some people call those patterns “grooves in the brain.” Others call them “neural connections.” I call them the “mud wallow.” It doesn’t really matter what you call them, I suppose.
What matters is that when it feels like you are trying to powerlift a steel door or un-stick muddy tires and you are sure it is impossible, that probably means you are doing it right. And it probably means that whatever you are trying to lift or shift or un-stick really needs to be lifted or shifted or un-stuck.
Right now, with the ongoing stuck-ness so many of us feel as our 2020 continues to get hijacked by the unexpected here, there and everywhere, in a way it also feels like our planet and our collective consciousness is somehow striving to un-stick us – to help us pull ourselves up and out of the mud we didn’t realize we had gotten trapped in.
Which is why I’m posting this.
Not just so anyone who wants to can write to me and tell me I’m not the only one who feels like this right at this particular moment (although that would be most welcome). But also so if anyone happens across this post and is feeling like this and thinks they are alone or doing something wrong or attempting something impossible, that reader will know they are not alone too.
You are not alone. Trust me. You are NOT alone.
Trying to get un-stuck from old emotional patterns doesn’t just feel like detox. It is detox. It is a detox from the hormonal patterns that kick in when we head down that old familiar neural highway yet again. It is a detox from habitual anxiety and depression when we give up on ourselves again and again. It is a detox from the self-distraction that feels awful but at least keeps us from having to venture out into a process that might feel even worse.
It is a detox from the perpetual fear that “so hard” will end up being “too hard” and we will just stay stuck forever.
I, for one, don’t plan to stay stuck forever, no matter how many steel doors I have to lift or how many muddy tires I have to un-stick.
But for now, just for the record, and just in case I am thoroughly, totally, un-stickably stuck, emotional detox sucks.
With great respect and love,