Riding the Waves of Recovery
I grew up near the ocean, where we were taught to pay close attention to the waves and the rolling tide. The movements of the sea held clues to impending weather, and to when it was safe for us to test the waters (and, conversely, when it was best to stay dry on the shore.)
It feels appropriate, then, that our own emotions are felt and frequently described as waves: They can grow and crash without warning, or gently rock us, or urgently pull us past where we intended to go. Learning how to navigate these waves is part of being human—and, even more so, part of the recovery process.
Anyone who has waded through choppy waters knows that trying to fight your way through waves doesn’t work; you wind up with a mouth full of salt water. Instead, we must learn to work with the waves, allowing them to buoy and carry us to the other side.
In recovery, as in all tumultuous times, we must learn to ride the waves of our emotions as they roll in, crest, and eventually pass. We must learn to see the ocean for its entirety, not just the passing storm. There are high tides and low tides. Sometimes the water is peaceful and still, and sometimes it’s rocky. The water isn’t always transparent or predictable—but there is always a place beneath the surface, deep down, where we can dive to when things get rough. And when we do, we realize that we are not the waves. We are the ocean.
The ocean and the sky have a close relationship, pulling and influencing one another. As the tide ebbs and flows, clouds pass across the sky like thoughts through our mind, taking shape and affecting the waves. To recover, we must observe those thoughts and the shapes we think they form. Are we interpreting them correctly, or is there another way to see what we believe to be true? Which thoughts should we pay attention to, and which should we allow to pass swiftly across the sky?
Like the ocean, the sky also goes through phases. Sometimes it’s sunny and bright. Sometimes it’s dark, overcast, and stormy. Nothing is permanent—not the weather, and not our emotional or mental state. Just as we learn to ride the waves, we learn to let the clouds pass. We are not the clouds. We are the sky.
You are so much more than your emotions and your thoughts. You are the one who notices them, rolls with them, and eventually lets them pass so that you can move on. And it is this awareness that will bring recovery into your life.
Now it's your turn, I would love to hear from you! How have you experienced the waves during your recovery?