by Alison Smela
Prior to overcoming addiction to alcohol and unhealthy eating practices, when I experienced some sort of a loss—a job, a relationship, a missed opportunity, or another type—I dreaded those words of consolation I knew I’d hear: “Well, you know what they say, Alison, when one door closes, another one opens.”
The truth is I don’t want to deal with change. That’s what happens when a door closes. That closing click of the door handle marks a definitive separation between what I know and what I don’t know. This uncertainty requires patience, and I assure you, that’s not something that comes naturally to me.
Most of my life was spent rushing from one experience to another. If I faced a need for change, I wanted an instant replacement and I’d do just about anything to find one.
Just like when I got drunk and/or skipped meals, I sought anything that provided immediate relief from my guilt and shame for that behavior. I kept forgetting that whatever I turned to only provided short-term relief. Before I knew what happened, I’d find myself back at the door I thought I closed with silent-spoken promises of less drinking and more eating. I never spent time between those addictive episodes in consideration about why I engaged in them to begin with. I never spent time in the hallway.
However, through the process of self-discovery, I am confident in the fact that there’s a lot to learn in that space and time between doors.
That period of reconsideration and course-correction is precisely what recovery is all about. After I accepted the need to close the door of addiction, I spent a long time in search of myself. I found a foundationally strong woman who helped me unfold the truth about who I was without the crutch of alcohol and an unhealthy relationship with food. I put those recovery efforts above everything else. Everything. What that effort led to was an ability to find the other door, the one that, once opened, offered me a path to the freedom I prayed for and a life that makes far more sense.
The hallways between what’s comfortable and what’s not will always exist because change is constant. In those spaces of quiet contemplation, where I can’t yet see the next right door, I turn inward. I take the time needed to get clear about why that one door closed, the mistakes I may have made, what I can learn, what I’m good at, and why improvements are needed. Once I do that, I find myself in front of the next door, better prepared for what I may find when I turn the handle.
A Moment to Breathe
When was the last time you allowed yourself to sit in the in-between? Have you ever? How many times have you rushed to fill the gaps in your life, only to realize the fix wasn’t right? Take a deep breath. My suspicion is that you are in an in-between right now. This is your hallway, somewhere between a secretive and shameful life and the one you hope will make much more sense. Take another breath and rest here for a while. What you learn while here might be precisely what you need to open that next right door.
Alison Smela is a writer, speaker, and an addiction recovery and health advocate. Through her blog Alison’s Insights www.alisonsmela.com, Alison shares her experience overcoming alcoholism and life-threatening eating disorder in midlife and how she now faces everyday challenges using recovery-based solutions. Feel free to connect with her via Facebook, Twitter, (@alisonsmela), or Instagram (alison.smela).