Tools You Can Use
When we get sober, many women discover that the outer shell of our addiction has been covering over a quaking, quivering inner mess. A whole biosphere of uncontained vulnerabilities, aches, longings, dreams and urges comes to light when the addiction is peeled back. Without the modulating effects of mind- and mood-altering substances, many of us feel we are at the mercy of inner and outer forces that bother, bully, terrify and overwhelm. For example, leaden thoughts may weigh us down. On other days, relentless tormenting fears whip us into an anxious frenzy. We get taken over by episodes of rage, or invaded by jealousy. On the other hand, we may feel deadened and numb, plagued by skin-crawling restlessness, haunted by emptiness. To be honest, sometimes it feels impossible to be alone with ourselves, even for a moment, without some help softening the glare, turning down the volume, or dampening the pain. That’s ok. It’s not our fault. If we have a chronic self-ache – if right here in our own skin is a difficult place to be – it’s natural that we need help turning that place into a more enjoyable place to be. The question is, what do we reach for to help us?
In the past, drugs and alcohol helped us keep a lid on all these chaotic, painful experiences. It helped us do what we needed to do to get by. It helped us be social and pleasant, facilitated our work, overrode our insecurities. Maybe it let us fall asleep at night, assisted us in tolerating the terror of abandonment or trauma memories brought up by being in relationships. It dulled our sharp edges and turned the dial up on our pleasure and happiness. For a good long while, our addiction may have actually helped us survive and accomplish the task of being in the world, in spite of all the aches, urges, pressures, and needs we had to manage. By the time we check into rehab for help, though, we’ve begun to see that the solution of addiction is a problem of its own, a problem way bigger than the original self-ache it was meant to solve. Although in the beginning substances made everything better, in the end, addiction made everything worse. So we commit to stopping the destructive, depleting cycle of addiction. Now what? What happens to our self-ache? Our first days without our shell, we may feel like a hermit crab that left one house behind, but has yet to find the next. Luckily we have ourselves, our community of other recovering people, and those benevolent forces of life that are on our side and want to help us heal. And we have tools.
As a way of empowering women to experience a more stable, safe, soft inner world, Villa Kali Ma runs a weekly group called Tools You can Use. As the name suggests, it’s meant to be practical. In this group we explore on-the-spot interventions to change our state of being. We learn how we can transition ourselves from conditions of mind, body, and soul that feel too uncomfortable to manage, to states that we can tolerate. We practice softening, easing, releasing, relaxing, holding, witnessing, and transforming our experiences in the moment to something that we can better get through.
There is a saying that it’s easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world. Tools Group is about sewing a pair of slippers, learning how to create feelings of safety, peace, stability, and simple pleasure in our own personal sphere. It is also about learning how to survive and get through those times when we aren’t able to feel safe and soft, and we are actively feeling the discomfort of our difficult emotions, painful thoughts, challenging body sensations, and demanding urges.
While all the groups at Villa Kali Ma teach tools in one way or another, this group is dedicated specifically to assembling a personalized toolbox of effective coping strategies to use on the spot, right when a distressing moment happens. Drawing on wisdom and exercises from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, 12 Step, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Breathwork, Law of Attraction, and more, Tools You Can Use guides women through a process of finding a way to modulate our own difficulties, to make being in our own skin well, a bit nicer. As opposed to the downward-spiraling tool of drugs and alcohol, the tools learned in group are upward spiraling, life-enhancing, life-expanding practices that will help us feel better and better over time. Come join in!