Everybody’s Got Something…

My friend and Podcast Co-host Laurie MacDougall has a catchphrase she consoled herself with when things were dreary or chaotic in her life:

Everybody’s got something.”

Isn’t that the truth? Don’t we all have something that returns to disturb the peace from time to time?

A difficult childhood.  A devastating divorce.  Loss of job.  A problematic relationship. A struggling child, a difficult parent…

Family, health or financial concerns. Betrayal. Neglect. Abandonment…

Failures, flaws…

We all have unseen pain, anxieties, and tender areas where our dignity might possibly be compromised.

We all have something, or someone, within our family that has potential to hurt and embarrass us.

We all have something that if triggered or threatened with exposure or recurrence, can pull us out of peace so fast before we know it we’re climbing down from the ceiling.

We all have something.  It’s the human condition.

I have had my fair share of something. Over the years I’ve experienced failure, loss, heartache, terror, trauma, family turmoil and the nightmare of addiction with those I love.

The effects were ever present in every area of my life.

I spent so many years carrying around all of my “somethings” that my heart felt like it had a hundred bullet holes in it. Exposing one of them to the possibility of further injury caused me so much fear and trepidation that it literally shut down and changed my personality.

I felt like I always had a dark cloud over my life.  My somethings brought out the absolute worst in me. For years.

Until I realized two things:

One: I was worth recovering. I deserve wholeness, health and confidence. We all do.

Two: Laurie’s right! Everybody’s got something.”

We are not alone in our pain, humiliations, fears or challenging relationships.  We all have them.

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As a culture we are very good at disguising our something, burying it behind a smile and the ready line, “I’m fine, things are great.”

Not that we have to bleed our business all over everyone, everywhere. There is a fine line between falsely presenting the truth and having no discretion!

But…when we are not fine and things are not great we tend to say one thing and present another.

Even when our voice is silent, behavior patterns are where our issues and problems speak loudest.

How do you say, “I’m not fine, things are not great?”

Overworking? Or perhaps going from job to job, home to home, life to life; never quite sticking anything out.

Spending money you don’t actually have, to buy things you don’t need, to prove yourself to people who if you were to layer them down, are probably not completely fine themselves?

Maybe you say it by rewarding yourself at the end of long, stressful days with overindulgent alcohol use.  Or by overeating unhealthy food.

Trying to fix or manage everyone around us is another way of saying “I’m not fine.” You can spend the rest of your life trying fix someone before you realize you’re exhausted and it’s impossible, everybody’s got something!

Do you take your something out on people?

Judging others, and despising people is a very loud way of saying; “I can’t look inward, but I’m not fine and things are not great.”

Perhaps mood swings, rudeness and toxic conflict with those around you is your behaviors’ way of saying “I’m not okay.”

A friend recently described to me her pattern of “I’m not fine” behavior.  If she took a hit that affected her well-being or confidence, she would find herself stewing.  She described how she would later complain and pick on things about her husband in order to offset the negative energy.

Her long-suffering husband would at first tolerate it.  But eventually becoming frustrated, he would lash back harshly, or exit communication altogether.  Therefore, giving her the justification she needed to continue criticizing him and being mad about…something. 

It was a cycle they’d danced around for years. Thank goodness people do recover and change!

Having experienced enough misery, her own pattern of unhealthy behaviors became visible to her.  She started catching herself mid-step in her old process and instead, intentionally tried a different way of finding relief for her frustrated, negative emotions.

Their relationship slowly moved in a different direction.  A positive, healthy one.

Maybe you have a similar pattern.  Or maybe you’re the opposite.  Suffering silently while stress infects areas of your life, health and emotional well-being.

There are many ways we present that we’re not fine or at peace.

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It’s true, everybody’s got something. What matters is what you do with it.

Is your something your excuse to act out?  To not trust, to be on guard and unkind?  To stay mad longer than necessary?

Do you use your something as the reason you don’t go for your dreams and goals?

Do you point at your something as the cause for behavior others complain about?

Fortunately, there are simple ways to work it through.

Regardless what or who lets us down and causes pain, our something doesn’t have to translate to lifelong limitations or permanent dysfunctional patterns.

There are ways out.  And through. The choice is ours.

Look inward I have often heard it said the first step of change is becoming aware of your own bullsh*t.  A strong start is asking ourselves honestly, “How am I not fine? How are things not okay? What positive steps can I take today to improve?”

Taking a few moments every morning to mentally pause, prepare and pray or meditate before starting the day can have a profound impact on our mental and physical well-being.

Therapy is helpful for anyone.  Working with the right Counselor to offset stress and modify behavior is extremely helpful.  Even reading therapy books and workbooks can ignite change.

Recovery support groups and rooms are life altering.  Just ask anyone in a program.  You will meet the finest people in those rooms, people just like you.  People who are stronger, better, healthier as a result of having a safe place to find friends who share their common burdens.

Peace is possible.

Healing and recovery is a process much like turning a ship around.  Great change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. But if you stick with it you’ll find…life gets better.

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“Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.” ~Steve Maraboli

I undoubtedly participated in many of the above ways of presenting that I was not fine and things were not great.  Eventually I got sick enough of myself and of dragging around the same old mess that continued to sour my life.

I had to make a choice. I couldn’t keep looking outside myself to fix problems or find confidence, peace and lasting joy.  I realized it was up to me to start gaining growth and getting some victory.  I knew I had to fight for my life.  Which meant I had to do internal work.

Isn’t that really where the change must take place regardless of who or what around us might be difficult?

The longer we live our lives looking outside for peace, change and responsibility, the less time we have to spend working on our own areas of brokenness.

Looking outward only causes blind-spots and delays progress, healing and success.

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I’ve had some consistent momentum within my life for some years now as a result of working toward serenity. Today I am fine and things actually are pretty great.  Though I’m well aware I could quickly return to my internal misery if I don’t continue holding myself accountable to seek peace and work on wellness.

If you’re like me, maybe you come from a family where everyone needed to recover.  From years of difficulty, conflict and misunderstandings along with trauma, tragedy and dysfunction.

We all have something to recover from!

Everybody’s got something, but anyone can recover.

I have tremendous respect for those who take their something and make it into something better; a cause, a purpose, a triumph.

A message of hope. A reason to rise.

Everybody’s got something.  I know what I’m doing with mine, what are you doing with yours?

“Find the meaning behind whatever it is you’re going through, because everybody’s got something.”  ~Robin Roberts

Still learning,

Annie

Author of Unhooked

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For information, comfort, encouragement and support:

Parent Support

Family Recovery Support