I recently took up guitar.
And when I say recently, I mean, I bought a nice guitar about two years ago, learned how to play four Taylor Swift songs, and then it found its resting place at the back of my closet ever since. 😛
But just this past week, I took it out and started playing again.
You see, when I was really in the groove, rocking out to T. Swift practicing every day, my hands had become tough. I had developed callouses on all of my fingertips from where the metal strings wore against my skin.
And today, in my frustration at my inability to play for an extended period of time, I got to thinking about those little callouses. And whaddya know….how they relate to recovery, and well, life in general 🙂
A while ago, Fabreeze had a marketing campaign about being “Nose Blind.” I bet you’ve seen the commercials: They brought in two blindfolded, seemingly non-actors in an “off-the-street” kind of fashion. They put them in a car filled with smelly pizza boxes, or a small room with a bunch of smelly gym clothes, and asked the blindfolded people to describe what they smelled and where they thought they were. The people would describe the “ocean breeze” or “fresh flowers” fragrance they were smelling, and then were horrified when they took off the blindfold to discover where they actually were. The point of the campaign was to say that Fabreeze eliminates all the odors you’ve gone “nose-blind” to.
Just like becoming “nose blind,” the callouses on my fingers formed, really without my knowledge. I was just doing my thing, and it wasn’t until I examined my hands one day that I realized that they were actually unrecognizable. They were so calloused and tough. And I had no idea.
This can happen in life a lot, too. Especially in recovery.
Callouses form from places of wear and tear — read: where things hurt us. And yet, we grow so accustomed to the pain that we don’t even realize that we’re being hurt. We grow numb to it. We don’t feel it, because there’s a callous there.
In my recovery, I always have to do a mental “callous check.” Because sometimes we don’t realize something that’s harmful because we’ve grown numb to it.
For my recovery, I always have to check my negative self-talk. I can grow so used to language that tears me down, that it doesn’t even register as painful. So whenever I look in the mirror, I always check how I’m speaking to myself.
But this goes far beyond recovery as well.
In fact, most of the callouses I have are as a result of non-recovery things.
This is a huge callous. And although none of the gossip I partake in is ever vicious or hurtful, it is gossip nonetheless. And I do it so often that I don’t even realize it.
The messages in the media I consume.
This one has really hit me as of late. As a nanny, the kids I babysit want to listen to music. And I’ll tell you what…you don’t realize some of the lyrics to songs you love, until you’re listening to it with a seven year old.
I mean, yikes! Trust me, I’m no prude, but I have just become so callused to negative messages and language in songs that I love! I love me some Drake…I mean I loooove me some Drake…but daaaang!
I don’t care how strong in my recovery I am, I still struggle with comparing myself to others. So much so that I’ve become callous to it. I have to consciously correct myself when I find myself being envious of another person’s outfit or persona.
Dang, this one gets me every time. Every. Stinkin. Time. Pride, causing me to be complacent or careless, or thinking less of others. It sounds disgusting, but that’s what callouses do. They numb you to what’s really going on.
I could go on and on about all the things I’ve built up callouses to. And I don’t want to turn this into a public confessional; I will just leave you with this:
Repeated exposure to negativity – whether produced inwardly, or subjected to outwardly – is always painful. Toxic relationships, negative self-talk, compulsive overexercising, binge drinking, smoking, gossip, excessive online shopping, empty hookups, overspending, cheating…all these things wound our spirits, but oftentimes we don’t feel it because we’ve grown used to the pain.
What are your callouses? And what are they preventing you from feeling?
Awareness is step one.
Take off that blindfold and take a look at the environment you’re actually in…not what Fabreeze or a callous has made you “nose blind” to.