This picture popped up on my feed from three years ago. It is from a project we did in rehab called a Vision Board. For those of you that are unfamiliar with what a Vision Board consists of, it is a collection of clippings from magazines that you glue onto a poster board. There are no firm rules, at least there wasn’t that night, of what to place on your vision board. The only rule is that it expresses your life vision and goals.
It felt like an odd project to be doing in rehab. I was there to be wired correctly and maybe even be absolved of regrettable behaviors. I suppose I didn’t capture the point (or vision) of it all, that is until I was diving into the various magazines and was able to identify with items. The items may have felt relatable or important to me but did they describe me? The problem was I didn’t know me anymore. After eight years of fogging out, you tend to lose sight of who you are; and you certainly become detached from your potential.
Putting it lightly, I didn’t treat the project with the respect I should have; at least, at the beginning. I told my instructor while gluing clippings on the poster, that it felt like I was in elementary school. I think I even joked about cutting letters out to make a ransom note, similar to what you see in the gumshoe movies.
The time ticked by and I surprisingly started to enjoy the assignment. I found advertisements that were relatable to my character, perhaps even how others knew me to be. The Vision Board soon began to take on a life of its own. After several pictures I began to cut out words and made the quote on the fashionable shoe you see above.
“Meet your demands all season”. This was now central on my board and it became the epicenter for the items surrounding it. This new found quote begged a few questions of me, what were my demands? What were my expectations?
I continued to paste items on the board that encompassed my love of art, reading, music, movies, and history. However, that led to the remorse of what I had ceased to seize for the last seven or eight years. The counselor noticed my discouragement and urged me to continue despite the emotional hurdle.
After surveying what was on the board, I yearned for things to be as they were. I wanted to pick up my acoustic and electric guitars, jam away and write original songs. I desired to make something of voice over work and my vocal talents. I wished to write stories of fiction and start projects and hobbies for nothing but the sheer joy of doing so. When did that tenacity flicker its last flame?
Throughout the years I have had many things I wanted to do, but veered far from making them a part of my vision. What happened? The aforementioned things legitimately made me happy, so how did I fall out of love with them?
I fell out of love with my identity and my goals. I fell out of love with life. Sadly, my goals were not those listed above, they were to use every day and every night. I wasn’t enjoying life, and after seven solid years of heavy use with drugs and alcohol, I am not sure many who are. My life was centered around active addiction, that was it. I didn’t have solid goals, other than getting wasted at the end of the day or dodging DUI’s. When using is your daily goal, your original goals take a back seat. Actually, they tend to go right out the window and hit every unpaved surface along the way.
I hated this about me and it carried into every facet of my personality. I never wanted to be anywhere too long because I wanted to be checked out as soon as possible. I relate those moments to the pestered drinker who says “You’re cutting into my drinking time.” So I was less than a gentleman or a joy to have around at any gathering, especially if it was a dry party.
This way of life was not meeting any of my previous demands, and I could see the future if I repeated the same routine. The future, if using continued, looked similar to the past and it was full of broken moments. In the end, it would be a nulled life.
The vision board helped me get perspective, it wasn’t a cure-all, nothing is. But I would suggest the activity to anyone at any stage in life; addict or not. The Vision Board is a visual inventory of where you are and where you want to be. Mine led me to fall back into what I loved and what made up my life, the life I had and once loved.
Slowly, sobriety began to rob me of my demons. As I began to deal with the emotional trauma that was handed to me a decade previous, I began to create and meet new demands. This is where you see addicts picking up hobbies like going to the gym or enthusiastically starting a hobby. I too went through this phase and there is a special beauty about it. You begin to see things again for the first time; washing scales from your eyes in the process. Your mind is clearing, you see beauty and meaning in almost everything. It is a tad strange but also very serene.
That beauty took the form of photography, which now litters this blog. I began to sketch with charcoal and colored pencils. I started playing the guitar and recording music again. I began snowshoeing and hiking. The passion for writing blossomed, as did the desire to understand my mind and cherish each day. I began to fall in love with life again.
My demands became my goals and the visual inventory evolved into a written list of goals, which I named the Goal Garden. Every so often I would list the “weeds” that would grow in the Goal Garden; these are the choking deterrents that prevented me from obtaining the goal (harvest) at the end of the season. I liked this analogy when I penned it in rehab. It made sense and helped me keep the vision and successfully reach goals.
In sum, the Vision Board was a catalyst to a better mindset. It helped with the realization that I needed to rediscover who I was before I went out seeking approvals and validations from others. Seeing the picture of the quote come up on my feed was a refreshing sight and allowed me to review my demands after three years. Meeting your demands all season is a way of keeping the Goal Garden clear of weeds. To coincide with the quote to “Meet your demands all season” is an applicable line from one of my favorite songs: “Take the time to pull the weeds, choking flowers in your life.”