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This article marked the beginning of my writings concerning alcoholic relationships. It was written almost two years before Empowered Recovery officially came to be.


The Windsock

By Doug Kelley • December 1999 • Updated February 2006

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, 

anyone can start from now and make a brand new end."  



It was a breezy day in Southwest Florida.  The sun was bright and warm, and there was not a cloud in the sky--a beautiful day indeed.  As I looked outside, I noticed the windsock that I had brought back from a recent trip to Bodega Bay, California, blowing in the wind.  As I watched it, I noticed it spinning in the wind, and the string that fastened it was turning in knots.  Although it had a swivel to prevent knotting, it didn't seem to be working.  I couldn't help but reflect that it somehow described my life in a metaphoric sort of way.  


It seemed that the winds of despair were blowing through my life, and all I was doing was getting tied up in knots.  A recent divorce from an alcoholic had left my son and me in emotional shambles.  Neither one of us could function at all.  As for me, I was unable to function at work.  I would just go and sit at my desk, stare at the walls and do nothing really well.  As for my son, he didn't have the emotional strength to go to school.  He was on a Home Bound program which brought a teacher to our house twice a week for tutoring, but even that proved to be a huge burden for him.  


As a result of my emotional immobility, I was having a hard time making ends meet.  Since my sales career paid straight commission, if I didn't sell, I didn't earn anything; if I didn't earn anything, then my problems only seemed worse.  I had become completely "reactive," not "proactive."  I felt as though I was a windsock, spinning in an endless gust of wind--my swivel not working--and with no way to unravel.  


I sought a therapist for relief and told her of my agonizing inability to function.  She just laughed quietly.  She said, "Doug, life has kicked you again and again, and then kicked you again, and you wonder why you can't function?"  She then told me that I suffered from the injury of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS) and it would take time to get my swivel working again and unravel my life.  It was clear that my son was suffering from the same injury.  My mother always told me that fierce problems were like holding up a wall against a strong wind.  When the wind stops blowing, you topple over with it.  


Another therapist helped me to see that I suffered from the disorder of Codependence and recommended  Al-Anon to help me overcome this disorder.  At Al-Anon, I found others who were struggling with their own gusts of wind.  It helped to know that I was not alone in my fight.  I also found acceptance, unconditional love and support. (Little did I realize that this was just a first step, for I would go on to develop healthier thinking on my own, and then help others as well. Empowered Recovery would be the result.)


As I looked closer at the windsock, I noticed that the swivel attached to the string was in fact turning, but it still allowed the string to knot up a little bit before the swivel would turn.  Maybe my life was really not spinning out of control after all, as I had thought.  Maybe after so many turns, things had evened out.  Maybe I was just reeling from the previous spinning as my therapist had suggested.  


After awhile, I looked at the windsock again.  It was still.  The wind had stopped blowing and the string was no longer knotted.  It had unwound.  Maybe this was my life now.  After all, the problems caused by alcoholism were gone.  I was now in a beautiful and loving relationship with a wonderful woman, and we were planning to make a life together to boot.  Maybe--just maybe--the knots of my life were simply bodiless images of past problems that I was hanging on to for some reason.  Maybe I needed these problems to feel alive; after all, they had been a constant part of my life for many years.  But now, with all of the wonderful things happening in my life, maybe I could let go of the death grip I had on my past problems.  I could cease giving my problems any life.  Maybe now, I could latch onto the wonderful feelings of the good things in my life.  Maybe now I could start living for the future, instead of living in the past.  


Maybe now, my windsock would be forever beautiful, just hanging peacefully in the sunshine of life.  


Doug Kelley is a Life-Coach, Professional Speaker and author of The Game Rules for Life. He focuses on helping others overcome self-limiting mindsets in the areas of business, sales, and life. To schedule an in-house seminar on this material, or to consider Doug as a speaker for your next event, please contact him at 941-740-2900, or doug@dougkelley.com. For more information, please visit www.dougkelley.com.

Copyright © 1999 By Doug Kelley, CH, CSL. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to reprint this article provided it is done so in its entirety (including this copyright box) and notice is given to the author at doug@dougkelley.com



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