What does recovery look like?

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24 months ago, as I stood on a cliff top, I felt the cool lake chilled wind rip through my shirt. I looked down on the distant lakes and watched as waves rushed from the west across the disturbed surface. The intense Fall sun’s rays were not enough to overpower the winds desire to rid me of my warmth.

The hike up from the lodge had given me time to doubt; Was the vertical elevation going to be enough for the impact to be devastating? Would the canopy of trees break the fall, slowing the impact? Injury alone was not an option, oblivion was the sought-after outcome.

Surrounded by the magnificence of nature’s wonderous beauty; woods, lakes, blue sky, clouds, sunshine, I did not feel. I was numb to everything other than the pain of thinking. The throbbing certainty that continuing was pointless, that the only way to get relief was ending the thinking, ceasing the thoughts, ending my life.

Straight down, beneath my feet, over the edge and several hundred feet below the trees swayed in a hypnotic wind dance. I moved along the cliff edge to distance myself from J, to give myself the space and solitude to do what needed to be done. I closed my eyes and wept. Freezing cold tears streaming down my cheeks. As I girded up my courage and took a step forward, I sensed J’s presence again beside me.

It wasn’t going to be today. She should not have to see this happen. That wasn’t a part of my plan. I wiped my cheeks and damp nose, looking away to hide the shame.

Yesterday I meditated at work, 15 minutes of tranquil me time. In the evening I went to a vinyasa yoga class, 60 minutes on my mat focused on my breathing, movement and mind. At home I cooked dinner. The phone rang, the engineer was at our lake house early, needing to be let in to work on the water meter. Dinner plans interrupted, the opportunity for frustration and anger to surface. Instead I breathed. Turned off the stove top. And left.

This seemingly trivial incident represents the culmination of self-development, of medication, of eating a plant based diet, of studying, of thousands of hours of meditation and yoga. All resulting in the mind and body I have today. Now able (most of the time) to create space between stimulus and response. That gap where I process, and yesterday realized that the engineer’s early presence would potentially allow J and I to dine together rather than apart as anticipated previously.

So, what does recovery look like? A spouse no longer walking on egg shells around me, a knowledge of the love that others have for me, the ability to determine my reaction rather than allow circumstances to control me. Mindfulness, inwards and outwards. I hope I am a better person to be with.

It’s a work in progress.

May I be safe,
be happy,
be healthy,
be at peace.

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