“It’s a process, not an event.”
How many times have I heard this phrase? Healing from a vocal cord injury reminds me of my journey of healing from alcoholism and its effects. Restoration of my injured voice didn’t take place during vocal cord surgery and restoration of my injured life didn’t happen when I took my last drink. Both events have merely marked the beginning of the healing process.
The process I choose to follow to maintain my sobriety and restore my life involves 12 Steps which most everyone has heard of. But you may not be aware that there are 12 Principles that accompany each of the Steps. It is in these principles that I see a relationship between the physical recovery of my voice and the spiritual recovery of my life. I’ll try to explain.
Here are the 12 principles associated with each step in the recovery process.
- Honesty – Back in February, I had to get honest. I had to admit that my voice wasn’t getting better. All the things I had tried to make sound come out weren’t working. I had run out of solutions.
- Hope – When I found a doctor who had treated many people with voice disorders much more severe than mine, I found hope. I started to believe that my voice could be restored.
- Faith – When the doctor gave me the treatment plan, I trusted that it was the best route to take. Scary as the word ‘surgery’ sounded, I trusted his experience, his knowledge and his advice. Even now, I have no idea what’s going to happen in voice therapy, but I have faith that whatever action is proposed, it’s way better than whatever I could have come up with on my own.
- Courage – Knowing the risks involved in surgery and not knowing how it all would turn out certainly took some courage. Even having to face my fear of needles became possible with courage.
- Integrity – I see integrity as accountability, and the first person I was accountable to was the friend who encouraged me to seek out medical help. Next, my bandmates deserved to know how my situation would impact them, since we would have to cancel some engagements. I became accountable to my doctor by adhering to his recommendations prior to and after surgery. Today, I am still accountable to my doctor, and soon that accountability will transfer to my voice therapist.
- Willingness – I was willing to do whatever it would take to get my voice back – even if that meant remaining silent for an extended period of time. Soon, I will begin voice therapy, and I will meet that with the same level of willingness to do whatever is suggested. Some would say I’m “willing to go to any lengths.”
- Humility – Throughout this process, I have listened to the people around me who know way more than I do. Someone told me once, the most humble words a person can utter are, “I don’t know.” Let’s just say, I’ve been feeling that in a big way!
- Brotherly Love – I allowed myself to accept the love, support and encouragement of others. This is no easy task for a person who prided herself on being ‘self-sufficient.’ Humility paved the way for love. Who’d a thunk!
- Discipline – I’m no stranger to discipline. Especially if the outcome of the discipline is something I value (like my voice!) Each day, I ask God for the strength to do whatever it takes to follow the directions I was given.
- Perseverance – At the end of each day, I review my day to see how well I stayed in process being very careful to leave the ‘butt-kicking machine’ turned off. It’s progress, not perfection. I’ve never been in recovery like this before, so I’m not going to do it perfectly.
- Spirituality – At the beginning of each day and then throughout my day, I maintain conscious contact with my Higher Power, asking for guidance and strength. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I completed the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises a couple years ago, and that experience instilled the habit of daily prayer and meditation. I don’t want to think of where I would be today without this principle at work.
- Service – I had to think about this one for a minute. I suppose I’m carrying a message of hope for other people who may be going through a similar challenge by posting these articles on my blog. I even wonder if my willingness to accept help is in some way an act of service. I am of the belief that everything that happens to me has a purpose…it is in some way happening to help me or another person. Unfortunately, I don’t usually see what the purpose is until the situation is long past.
This is indeed a process. It is a process made up of a series of events! I’m grateful that I have the willingness (and sometimes even the patience!) to stay in this process despite my natural inclination is to want things to happen now.
Day #9 of Grand Silence is winding down. Thank you for being in the process with me!
(OMG! As soon as I typed the last word, a blue heron flew by my window. I can’t make this stuff up!)