How you know you're making progress

After filming "Hoarders" back in October 2009, I found some really raw wounds from my childhood that I had hidden relatively well with band-aids which had now been stripped and left open. I found myself faced with horrible memories that I had almost forgotten, but the events of cleaning out my mother's home and moving her across the country brought them flooding back.

I spent hours all but hyperventilating realizing that I had agreed to move my mother to the same city I was living in after consciously choosing to leave home and staying as far away as possible. Sometimes, when I thought about my decision, it was almost hard to breathe.

I identified the root of my anxiety, and began to work through my brokenness. I call it recovery, although many think recovery is only for those who are addicted. But I was addicted. I was addicted to the broken ways I'd learned growing up, and I continued to make the same choices over and over even though the results were always the same, and never what I wanted. I think that's called insanity in some circles.

For almost two years now, I've spent hours, days, months pondering what I learned growing up--how those learned behaviors have helped me and also how they've harmed me. I've learned that when I don't know a different way, just try anything. Failure is the inability to keep trying, not a bad result.

So how do I know I've made progress???

1. I can tell my mother and others when I feel as though my safe boundaries are being compromised. It stills gives me anxiety to stand up for myself at times, but I press through.

2. I can let others take care of things that I used to have to control. I can let the kids put the dishes away without going back and rearranging them. I can tell others that I can't do something. I don't have to do everything, nor do I want to, by myself anymore.

3. I don't fear authorities figures the same way. I'm not afraid to tell my mother the hard stuff, or my husband, my pastor, etc. Now, I'm pretty sure if I get pulled over for a moving violation, I will begin to cry still. I've made progress...I have not yet arrived!

4. I've learned to admit my failures, mistakes, and shortcomings and to ask for forgiveness. I don't always get forgiveness, but if I've admitted my poor behavior sincerely and asked, I am absolved of my tendency to mess things up. I can sleep whether I am given forgiveness or not when I know that I'm truly sorry and have repented.

Honestly, there are many ways that I know I'm making progress. I could probably post everyday for a month and never cover it all. But I also know I still have a long way. I still step on others' feelings and rights more than I'd like; I can be selfish and self-serving; I still want to be in control in situations where I shouldn't be or really can't be in control.

But I'm making progress...what about you? I'd love to know where you are at...

UPDATE NOTE: As is my luck, I got pulled over while driving in Louisiana (again). BUT...I had no panic attacks and did not cry. Oh, and even ticket, just a verbal questioning...I think he just wanted my autograph! [7/24/2011]


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