In the beginning, recovery can be a scary prospect, not only because of the work that needs to be done but also because of what we are about to face in ourselves. Self-realization of course is the key to successful recovery, but facing what we have been avoiding is more than humbling. Usually, there’s a whole heap of broken bits and pieces of ourselves and our lives that we must reassemble. The bitter pill on top of the broken pile is the guilt and shame that inevitably accompanies a life of pain and destruction. Most of us already feel pretty low about ourselves. But take away the numbing substance or behavior and that low feeling takes on a whole new meaning. Don’t worry though. There is hope!
That’s right! Hope is present in bucket loads. Whatever way you choose to recover, be it 12-step or not, it’s always a good idea to have a support system around you, preferably with people who have been through the process themselves. There’s nothing like a recovered addict to bring all the warm and fuzzy happy hope right to your face. Beware, all the happy hope may irritate you at first. Especially if you are down on your luck and feeling less than joyous. Stick with it though, these happy hopers are not laughing at you, they are laughing with excitement for what is about to unfold for you. If you let it that is!
It goes without saying that many of us in recovery are dealing with some form of deep trauma. We use or act out to escape the pain of this trauma in our bodies. It’s a regular occurrence for a person engaging in substance abuse to believe they are just bad, unlovable people. Coming into recovery teaches you something different. Today, psychology and the basic human condition are deeply understood as are our trauma responses and triggers. The deeply shaming aspect of addiction is quickly becoming a distant memory. We are not defective, but in fact, reacting intelligently to our traumatic history in an attempt to cope and stay alive. Active addiction may seem contradictory to this fact, but I will be the first to say that my active addiction stopped me dying by suicide on many occasions. My mind and heart could not cope with my raw trauma so I numbed to be able to function. The good news is though, once you step into recovery, you will be supported to deal with the fallout from your trauma without using.
For the first time, you may find yourself being accepted and included. You may even find friends who like you for who you are! Imagine that! Nobody wants anything from you but to see you get well. You will have lots in common with others you meet in recovery and you will see examples of what life lived happily looks like. New opportunities will open themselves up to you and it’s up to you to grab them.