If I say recovery, you most likely picture a group of former drinkers and addicts, huddled in a circle in a church basement, clutching Styrofoam cups of coffee and stale donuts. Someone calls the meeting to order and out comes a litany of regrets, mistakes, and praise to finding a higher power.
That’s where a lot of us get stuck when we think about recovery. It’s what we see in the movies. It’s what we imagine other people have to do in order to heal. Somehow we get the idea that recovery isn’t for us. That we don’t need to heal. That we can keep pushing through what weighs us down, and numbing the hell out of the rest.
But, after living through the past three years of post-pandemic fallout, I think there’s a little more awareness that we’re all recovering from something.
So, while it’s easy to get stuck in the stereotypes of the recovery community, here are a few pieces you can take away and apply to your own life.
One of the most difficult steps of recovery can be acknowledging and accepting who you really are, but it’s a crucial part of the process. Looking at all you’ve been through, and how you want to live your life as you move forward, helps you being to move towards radical self-acceptance. It’s about looking at yourself honestly and taking stock of your strengths and weaknesses and your failings and all of those things that go into making you who they are. It’s tough work. Who wants to sit down and talk about where they’ve fucked up, but looking at this allows you the freedom to see where you are, who you are, what your strengths are, and the jumping off point. It’s so easy to go through life blaming others, or wanting to blame others, and not really being all that willing to go deep with ourselves.
MAKING AMENDS (TO YOURSELF & OTHERS)
When I think of making amends, I think about it like making peace with myself and others, and apologizing for the part I played in situations. This isn’t about placing blame on yourself, but looking honestly at people you’ve hurt, acknowledging the role you played, and apologizing and letting go if possible. It’s just as important to make amends with yourself. Letting go of guilt and shame, are huge catalysts for accelerating the healing process. If you’re able to reach out to the people involved, and it’s not going to be dangerous for you, then make amends in person. If it’s safer not to do so, write a letter that you never send. It’s about getting that regret, guilt, and shame out of your head where it’s most likely taking up too much space.
UNDERSTANDING WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU
A big shift in the recovery moment, is the realization that trauma is so intertwined with the recovery process. Shifting from asking the question, “What’s wrong with you?”, to “What happened to you?” leads to an entirely different conversation. It’s an important distinction because you’re built upon all the stories and experiences of your past. There can be a tendency to hold on more tightly to that past, or numbing yourself from that past, which impacts your current relationships and how you behave and interact with others. Understanding that you’re not your past, that it happened and working to let it go, is an integral part of the healing and recovery process.
THE COURAGE TO NOT RELY ON SUBSTANCES
The people you meet in recovery are some of the bravest souls around, they’ve been through some dark times and are choosing to live substance free. I remember when I was freshly separated from my husband, all I wanted to do at night was sit on the couch with my bottle of wine and get lost for a few hours. I wasn’t facing anything. And, I also wasn’t healing from anything. I was carrying around all the guilt, shame, and anger that was weighing me down and putting everything on hold. Four and a half years into my sobriety there are plenty of rough days, that’s just the way life is, but I’m facing all the feelings and emotions and dealing with them, instead of saving them for another day.
If you’re curious about exploring your relationship with alcohol, reach out and book a STRONGER SOBER session, under the WORK WITH ME tab.
I’ve got you!