Freedom of mind is an idea. Being trapped inside a demented idea or feeling (as John Odonohue called it) describes addiction perfectly to me. An all consuming desire and abusive relationship with a substance, behaviour or relationship that is unhealthy or destructive. Locked in a cell of your own design “I’ve built four walls, a roof and a floor, a cell of my own so I couldn’t withdraw…” As your own prison warden, the thought of escaping the self imposed sentence or prison to a life of freedom is both scary and inviting.
Inviting in that there’s a possiblility of a life free of drudgery, fear, boredom and death and yet also scary and terrifying of the unknown, the thought of a life without the thing, the crutch, the life preserver that has falsely kept you going for so long.
So how to reconcile the person who once stood scared as he empties the last dregs of a bottle of rum, a fierce determination to try the road to recovery once more. as unsure as I was how i’d got there again, i find it more unbelievable how I am 11 years sober, with a life and a future. although still trapped at times within my thinking which at times seems to go against the very core of who I am today.
This freedom I speak about, this freedom of the mind is available to me today if i choose to allow it. I have found myself at times looking back at the broken person I was once. Fractured, frightened and fearful with a past drenched in mistakes and mishaps that I never felt I could fully escape myself longing enough to find out who I could be.
I was once told that “we have a talent for forgetting…” A stark message that I recall vividly and try to remember. I have a brain that wants to kill me, through social isolation and a lack of self preservation, so I have had to employ new patterns of behaviour and distractions to give me tools to fight my own mind. With practice and perseverance and support from those around me I chose to reach out to in times of need. I can find myself with this freedom of mind. I can allow myself to live a life.
I struggle to live in this world, I find it confusing and full of contradictions. I am overwhelmed by people and the cacophony of noise they create. I have a head that is too busy to keep up with at times and feels conflicting from one moment to the other. My ADHD is both a power and a curse, it allows my mind to wander into strange and wonderful world and yet at times dares my body to do the strangest and most dangerous of things. It reminds me of the story of the two wolves where the Cherokee Grandfather tells his grandson of the two wolves inside us all, fighting. When asked which wolf wins, the Grandfather says, “The one that you feed.” However the real end to that story is that we have to feed both wolves in order to keep ourselves balanced. To respect and nurture our darkness so that the qualities of each can help us in our lives each day.
So here I am. 11 years a free man, with freedom of mind, at times. Only at times. As I feed my wolves both white and black through the way I live my life. Sometimes, I find I feed my black wold too much and that is when I find myself out of balance. And thankfully I have enough in the bank emotionally to recognise this and redress the balance with the tools that I have developed that allow me to better stay in control of my black wolf and part of that is remembering to feed my white wolf.
Each day allows me another opportunity to experience and enjoy freedom of mind, through the simple ways I interact with the people in my life. reaching out for help, or offering a friendly ear. A walk in the woods or some much needed rest by a pond or a river. I love that freedom of mind is available to me if I but choose to allow it.
Freedom means something different to different people. How do you gauge your freedom of mind, what has been your learning in your life that has brought to where you are today?
A Thirsk Counsellor