I spent the last few days visiting my relatives in a different state. Aside from the fact that they're generally completely barmy, I survived the visit. As my parents and I were driving home this morning, my dad was programming the GPS to bring us back home. It should have been relatively straightforward--after all, we knew where home was, and all we needed to do was actually get there.
The problems started when all three of the route options sent us straight through Washington DC at rush hour. If you've never had to navigate DC traffic during rush hour, let me summarize the basic idea: avoid it at all costs. So how to get around DC? We knew there was a way around, but what exactly was that route and how did we get there?
Except that this post isn't about how to use GPS in all sorts of strange ways the directions really didn't tell you about. It's sort of about recovery. As we were figuring out our directions, I was thinking that many times in recovery, I had therapists and guidebooks telling me where I needed to go. Most of the time, they pointed me in the right directions. But it's easy to find roads on maps; it's another when you know about traffic patterns, possible construction, and other conditions.
There will probably be a time in your recovery (there was in mine) when the conventional wisdom doesn't quite seem to fit your circumstances. When life throws you a detour and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. For me, the biggest disruption was recovery itself. I had to step off the career path I had mapped out from when I was in middle school because the ED was getting in the way, and I was no longer sure that I wanted what I thought I wanted. Most GPS systems can handle minor detours and help you get back on track. But it's less helpful with major detours, when all of the directions you had are temporarily less than useful.
This is when you flip off the GPS and its directions for "home" several hundred miles away. You're still headed home, of course, towards recovery and life and happiness, but by a different route. Instead of tackling that entire route, you just take the next fifty or so miles. Get me to a place that's marginally closer to where I want to be so I can re-evaluate the best route. Then you keep doing this, over and over and over.
I didn't just wake up and "decide" I wanted to be a writer. It was a slow series of decision, each of which led me closer and closer to the career I wanted. With recovery, I intended to bull on through, except that I kept running into detours and roadblocks. I had to get used to that quasi-human voice saying, so maddeningly patiently, "Recalculating..."
I'm not saying to buck your therapist's advice because it's inconvenient. It's not about finding ineffective (but less painful) ways of getting to where you want to go. It's about taking life one turn, one road, one decision at a time. I always thought that doing this would mean I would forget where I was headed. Not all decisions would bring me closer to my career goals, which might mean that I find myself the opposite of where I wanted to be. But it's not an either/or thing.
I never really thought about this until I literally had to switch off the GPS and focus on getting to where I needed to be by the best way I knew. It meant some detours and a lot of motion sickness, but we also avoided the nasty traffic and arrived home at a decent time.