Recovery and Perspective
When I talk about 'recovery' I like to use it in reference to any kind of therapeutic process which can result in a healthier lifestyle. Yes, I have a lot of experience working with people building sobriety from substances and compulsive behaviors so I am familiar with the typical use of the word. But I believe it works well to describe the journey from suffering to balance regardless of what's at the root of our pain. I am a firm believer that substance use or other process addictions are behaviors expressed due to trauma. Therefore , all recovery is about stabilizing our life, building our health, sense of self and healing wounds. Recovery is about rebuilding or sometimes creating, a foundation for the life we want to lead, and resolving symptoms or survival skills that have challenged our ability to stay on our best path. I've heard people in the rooms equate recovery with getting our integrity back and I believe that. I like to point out that the word Integrity has many meanings and they all must be considered when we talk about recovery. We start the quest to improve our strength to 'hold up' and 'carry the load'. We walk the path to find our center and integrate with our values once again. We stay on the journey to create wholeness and practice compassion for self.
Change is a fluid process that happens with periodic successes and challenges. Sometimes we are able to see our changes right away and sometimes there's a lot of work that happens before a noticeable difference occurs. It can be frustration because it comes in fits and starts. We can relapse or slip back into any unhealthy behavior or defense mechanism. We can see symptoms reappear that we haven't experienced for months or years. And we can recover from all types of things: self-doubt, poor self-esteem, neglect, abandonment, abuse, regret, trauma, substance use, compulsive eating, gambling addiction, sex addiction
...Change never feels fast enough and is can seem inconsistent but we have to trust the process. Its important to remember that we are often healing layers of experience which will demand dedication, patience and a willingness to have compassion for ourselves and others. Sometimes wounds don't heal as quickly as we desire and require changes in treatment plans to reach maximum health.
A lot of people think about the recovery process as a linear path, but I picture it more like an upward spiral. Things that we have worked on in the past will often come back up for us because we are circling back around, walking the same path again, but making progress slowly with upward movement. We might see an experience from a different angle, change our perspective or shift our response. Each time we address an issue over again, we have the potential to transform our response to it or reinforce a new, healthier pattern. New behaviors take practice to become habits. Its important that this image of an upward spiral stay with us because we can beat ourselves up if we feel like we keep doing the same things over again. "I can't believe I'm still doing this!" If we're busy judging ourselves, we might fail to notice any changes that we're making. That's why its so important to have someone else on the path with us. Another person may be able to see what you can't. Whether its a family member or friend who knows our story or a therapist; its important to have a person that helps us stand back and see the whole picture. Through the gains and challenges, we need someone to help get the picture back in focus and show us pieces we haven't been able to identify yet. Someone to help us stay the course.