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Dear Reader, Welcome to Lentz Letters! Murphy’s law strikes again. Have you had it happen to you? Expecting to arrive at your destination on time when the GPS takes you on a detour. The voice from your GPS rudely interrupts the beat from the latest hit single with the words, “Due to an accident 5 miles ahead you will need to take this alternative route. This is still the fastest route to your destination”.

Another change to an already stressful day! There always seems to be time constraints and demands pulling you in a hundred different directions. I am reminded of these vivid sentiments one day when my son was younger. I was rushing to an out of town soccer game. Being there for when the whistle blew was important since he would in the line up to start. I followed the GPS to the letter. It told me which way to go. Or should I say that ever so pleasant male voice with the British accent, who is fondly known as Dexter in my vehicle, prompted me to obediently follow wherever he led me. The next thing I know I missed half of the game trying to maneuver my way out of a remote and unfamiliar area that was far from home. In that moment there were no whistles blowing or cheering section in my vehicle. For someone who is directionally challenged I was too busy entertaining a lot of anxiety trying to find my way back to anything that looked remotely familiar while using some choice expletives directed at Dexter. I kept thinking to myself if I could not depend on Dexter to take me to someplace new then who or what could I rely on?

Think about who or what has helped you navigate through the changes that challenge you in your life? Perhaps you have had similar experiences learning that familiar is not always the same as reliable. Have you heard about the definition of insanity? It is loosely quoted something like this, “expecting different results but relying on the familiar to achieve it or repeating the same behavior over and over while getting the same result.” There are times in life when we become complacent, relying on the same old people, places and things and suddenly we realize that we have veered off the path. We find that the old ways of navigating life are not helping us to get where we need to be. Change is confusing enough whether it is staring us in the face, catching us by surprise or forced upon us. Similarly, navigating through recovery is difficult to manage regardless of which angle you are view it from. Recovery is not just about staying clear of the familiar drug or drink of choice. Successful recovery requires changing familiar people, places and things. But what about changing from the inside out? It is not surprising that making necessary changes in recovery is difficult! The changes in life are inevitable but it does not mean that we always embrace them!

Change is easier if you believe in its purpose, even if it is not what is convenient or what is desired. Facing change can be hard especially it is not what is expected. It is like navigating unchartered territory without a reliable GPS to get you through. (You know I am talking about you, Dexter!) You think that you know what to expect on well- travelled roads. The problem is that in life, like a well -travelled road, we may still face the unexpected that are beyond our control. We need to put our attention on what we can control. So, what if your navigation system for tackling recovery is filled with the unexpected, leaving you feeling alone and vulnerable? Surely you can put your faith in what you have always used in life. Surely, you can rely on the familiar voice, like my British “friend”, to tell you where to go. Besides, if you do not follow it’s every command it will remind you that it is recalculating, over and Over and OVER again. It will continue to demand that you listen solely to its voice. Surely, this is the old familiar “friend” has all the answers! But consider what would happen if that same GPS kept complaining how boring the trip was and whispered better options to try and urge you to take the old path to familiar trips and triggers. The voice of addiction is like that and can be very cunning, convincing and persuasive. By listening to that voice, you will end up like I did when I listened to Dexter when it mattered most, in a perpetual personal cycle of desperation, loss and intensified anxiety. Add additional stress or a couple bumps in the road and consider how easy it would be to give up, give in and make a quick u-turn back to old familiar routes. In these moments, it would probably be easy to forget why you even started out on the destination. Staying stuck in our old bad habits and hang ups are not going to give us what we need. The perpetual cycle I mentioned earlier plays tricks on you to believe you need the old GPS to navigate through life, regardless of what you are experiencing. Some of these tricks keep you focused on past mistakes while other times the old GPS tricks you into ruminating about all the unknowns associated with changing your habits. This can lead to a real case of the What if’s? Focused with worry about what if this or that happens is like a road leading to nowhere. What the voice of addiction doesn’t tell you is that looking back at what we miss by being with our drug or drink of choice causes us to forget what we can gain by living in the moment without it. If we are gripped with fear about the future, we are neglecting to notice what we can be grateful for on this day of the journey. Embarking on this journey requires trashing this old GPS system. It is obsolete with unhelpful messages. (Sorry Dex, it is time for a change! You are too much of a trickster!)

To sum it up, navigating through recovery will challenge you but the changes you make will be filled with hope. This is done by focusing on what is in your control. You have the choice to keep your attention on this day, in this moment. This day is not about listening to old voices but making the choice to take back control of your own life by listening to your wise self. On this day in the journey you can take steps to claim what you need from life, not the quick fix for a fleeting moment in time. There is more to life that what your drug or drink of choice has been telling you. Goals, values, interests are on this journey and ready to embrace. On this day you can become more self-aware of the responsibility that you have for yourself. A responsibility to embrace each day and begin the process of finding yourself, perhaps for the first time. This journey requires filling it with positive support that celebrate the new you. For some healthy support is not readily available. Building a healthy support system takes time. At first glance, facing the fact that you are alone may have a similar feeling to fingers on a chalk board. This day of the journey means redefining what it means to be alone. All of us need to learn how to be our own best friend and learn the benefits of being alone, with more self- affirmations and positive thoughts. Therapy can help you learn new coping skills, and mindfulness habits that pave the way for you to get comfortable in your own skin and welcome these alone times. You do not have to navigate through this journey to freedom alone. I invite you to keep your eyes on the road ahead for it has much to offer you as you learn to embrace the freedom that change can bring on your road to recovery! Your journey to freedom can begin today. Call today to set up an appointment and see how.

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