Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

celebrate the simple


simple things

Recently, I’ve been keeping a prayer journal.  I don’t write down lists of things I want to remember to pray about; I actually write out my prayer.  Sometimes speaking my prayer–even if it’s in my head–is difficult for me because I suddenly have this “I must word things perfectly” feeling come over me.  But I always feel at home while writing.  I don’t write in this journal every day, just when I feel, well, led to do so.

Last night, I was almost ready to close my eyes and I relaxed and thought to myself, “I am content with this day.”  And then I was suddenly awake. And I felt pulled to write in my prayer journal.

I think that I am more likely to remember to pray when the chips are down–when I’m feeling low or depressed or lost or confused or if someone I love is sick.  And when things are going really well, I just don’t pray.

Last night I realized that it’s just as important for me to keep a prayer journal when things are going well as it is when things are sort of crappy.  It’s just as important to be thankful for and celebrate the good in life as it is mourn the negative parts of life.  God doesn’t only want us to talk to him when we’re in tears; he’s able to laugh and smile with the best of them.

I think the same idea holds true in recovery and therapy.  About three months ago, I almost quit therapy.  Even though I was depressed and needed to be in therapy.  But there were so many sessions where I walked away feeling like shit because I didn’t use enough skills, or apply the “right” skills, or do the right things–basically I walked away from a lot of sessions feeling like nothing I did was every good enough.  Which, granted, is an issue of mine–the whole “not feeling good enough” thing–but it was getting pretty extreme.

So I wrote my therapist a letter.  Typed and single spaced, it was two full pages long.  And I emailed it to him and then we had that as a starting place for when we next met.  He had no idea I was feeling the way I was.  And he never meant for me to feel that way.  And we realized that, in my case, the DBT diary cards left something out.  DBT diary cards do focus on whether or not you engaged in certain behaviors, and what behaviors get put on the card varies from program to program.  Which is great, because it lets the therapist know if you’ve had trouble with these behaviors during the week, but if you are not only not engaging in behaviors, but not wanting to engage in them–leaving the “urge to self-injure” column full of 0’s–well, it’s not as helpful.  And yes, on the back of the card, you circle what skills you used each day, but you circle the skills you use even if you didn’t mean to use them as skills–ie, knitting for me is a form of mastery; even if I don’t do it with the intention of building mastery, I do it quite a bit.  So the circling of skills isn’t as helpful as it was when I first started DBT work over ten years ago.

So now, each day, I write down three things I am proud of, and give that to my therapist at the beginning of the day.  It has definitely helped with the validation issue.  And it’s also become a good tool for him–by looking at my list, he knows, in general, how my week has gone.  One week I didn’t turn in a list, because I couldn’t think of anything worthy of being on that list.  But he explained that the list is important, because it tells him “where” I am, and where our goals should be.  So if I have a week where “getting out of bed” is something to be proud of, my goals are going to be a bit different than the weeks when each day has at least three things that are more in line with our overall goals–challenging body image distortions, increasing social activities, being assertive in certain situations.

But there are days when getting out of bed is a challenge.  And instead of feeling bad that I didn’t do more on that day, I should be proud of myself for ignoring the depressive thoughts and getting my ass out of bed and doing something–anything.  There are days when crocheting a pot holder is something to celebrate.  Those days are no less important than the days when I write an essay or finish a chunk of schoolwork or translate a long passage of Latin.

We’re told “don’t sweat the small stuff” but I think we should also be told, “Celebrate the simple.”  Take each day on its own terms, without comparing it to or measuring it against any other day.  Celebrate the here and the now, not what you could have done.

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July 25, 2010 - Posted by | Eating Disorders, mindfulness, recovery, therapy | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. celebrate the simple…I like that

    Comment by Sarah | July 25, 2010 | Reply

  2. Good post!!

    Burn Notice

    Comment by MarkCV | July 27, 2010 | Reply


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