Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Paper Parachutes

(This post comes from John Joseph.)

Addictions are like paper parachutes. We assume the plane we’re on is going down. We snatch the nearest thing and jump only to find that the parachute is made of newspaper. As it shreds into thousands of pieces we fall faster and faster, hurtling to the ground at warp speed.

Once again, something we thought would save us accelerated our destruction. The crazy thing is that the plane probably wasn’t going down, but was having only minor problems. Had we not reacted in hysteria we would have landed safely.

As a sex-abuse survivor, I’ve jumped needlessly thousands of times. My paper parachutes have been forays into drug and alcohol abuse, sex addiction, hyper-spirituality, affairs, and even suicidal ideations. I’ve hit the ground so hard at times that it is a miracle I’ve survived and been able to maintain the relationships around me.

I've discovered about my recovering self is that I must resist. Panic is my enemy, not my friend. The bizarre tendency I have to turn minor upsets into major catastrophes must be tamed.

One technique I have used to curb panic is to breathe. As a passenger, my job is to keep breathing and not jump. I’m not the one flying this thing. The pilots know what they are doing (insert your Higher Power here).

Turbulence, even severe turbulence, doesn’t mean we’re crashing. It just means we’re traveling and making progress toward our destination. Mechanical problems and delays rarely result in the mangled and flaming tragedies we imagine and are normal to the process.

Recovering from childhood sexual trauma won’t happen without turbulence along the way. We'll face setbacks, delays, bad weather, and crying babies in the seat beside us. The secret to staying the course and moving from victim to victorious survivor is simple: Keep breathing and don’t jump.

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