The other day, my phone glitched—or at least, I thought that’s what happened. Suddenly Facebook was down. There was some strange message about having a problem and working to resolve it. I stared at this message and read it several times. Then, I logged off and then immediately back on to my Facebook app.
My breathing started to increase.
I think my palms got sweaty.
I shook my head.
My son looked at me concerned and asked: “Mommy, are you sad?”
“No, just confused, I told him.” Which was mostly true.
And then I did what any logical person would do in my situation: I checked Instagram.
The little circle that indicates my device is thinking kept circling, and I stared at it in a similarly confused fashion until it hit me:
Maybe my prayers have been answered and social media is dead.
Several hours later, I exhaled dejectedly when alas, social media had like a long-awaited Season 2 Netflix series, came back to life. I felt a little joy (not going to lie) and also a sense of deep sorrow for the time that would no doubt be lost. I’m pretty sure I spend too much time on my computer and phone.
So, what does any of this have to do with recovery?
Well, it struck me as I wondered if the world as I knew it (the one wrapped up in likes and comments and algorithms and advertisements and platforms) was gone: maybe I need to switch things up a bit. Maybe my life and recovery need a reset.
Maybe I’ve been focusing on all the wrong things (again)—or maybe the right things, just with the wrong attitude.
For me, recovery and my own health is something that I need to make sure is on point or on fleek (I’m a little late with this phrase), or the rest of it can fall to the wayside. And by the “rest of it” I mean the good stuff like family, friends and faith.
But thankfully, when my own recovery starts getting wobbly, there are a couple things that I’ve learned to do (that you and God have taught me)—and I’d love to share them with you.
You may have heard the old expression, “knowledge is power.”
I believe that when we learn more about our addiction and trauma, we are able to get to another level of healing. I experienced this first-hand in addiction treatment and later when I learned about how trauma impacts my life, behavior, and mental health.
The mind and body goes through more than a lot when we experience addiction recovery and the related traumas that go with it. And not just right after the traumatic event. We can experience the after effects for years.
So how can we re-learn or re-train our bodies to self-regulate?
Self-regulation (in the non-sciencey way to talk about it) is the practice a loving self-control.
My old ways of self-regulation and coping included so much cannabis, sex to numb myself out and re-traumatize myself, and disordered eating. It was freeing when I finally learned that there were actually healthy ways that I could learn to regulate my body. We can find and learn ways to calm and even change the arousal system in our bodies that is responsible for trauma responses.
God has created us to live together in community, in harmony. When I realize this, I understand that I can take my recovery to the next level. When I humble myself and let others in to my journey–When I embrace vulnerability instead of creating more walls (even sober ones), when I lean in to the struggle – I open myself up to healing.
I remember when I first walked in to a room of people in sobriety, something incredible happened. I realized for the first time that I wasn’t alone in my experience. It took a lot of pain to get to that realization (and probably pain I brought on myself too often), but I finally did realize that I couldn’t do it by myself. In fact, I wasn’t created to.
I learned (and am still learning, I’d like to point out) that:
Healing isn’t a holding on—it’s a letting go. With the help of our recovery family.
For me, it took a long time (almost twenty years) to finally accept that I had a problem with alcohol and other drugs—and that this problem was about more than just addiction. I had to do sometimes grueling work on myself with a therapist (actually, many therapists), spiritual support networks, and recovery folks. While this was tough, it did lead me to a new place of freedom in acceptance. When I could accept who I was, I could let go. It’s a miraculous, mysterious thing to surrender.
When we can do these simple (but not always easy) things, we give ourselves the opportunity to reset, refocus, and recommit to our lives and recovery. We are worth it, friends!