In regards to our ability to practice what we learn in recovery, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, “No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.” This kind of sentiment is important to bear in mind as we live a life in recovery. We don’t earn perfection and we don’t become perfect saints, and because we are still human and we still make mistakes, we still sometimes experience emotional fallout as a result of our actions in recovery. As a group of people that can find managing emotional turmoil difficult, how do we maintain our recovery when we hit that wall sober?
The Wreckage of the Present
Through treatment and 12-Step programs, we have the opportunity to take a thorough look at our past conduct and then work to set things right. This isn’t an easy or simple process but we find that it’s massively freeing and helps to heal the wounds of our past. This process also helps us to identify where we have exhibited behavior patterns that have created such damage and work to heal them. Unfortunately, this isn’t an overnight process, in fact, it’s a lifelong process that most of us will continue to work on. Some of these behavior patterns leave us quickly, while others take a much slower route. The challenging characteristics some of us take longer to work through, such as fear, insecurity, entitlement, or perfectionism, continue to get us into trouble even after we put substances down. We expect the best from ourselves and as we grow as humans in recovery that’s a reasonable expectation. That same humanity causes us to fall short at times. Coupled with life events that happen outside our control there may be times where it seems like everything around us is falling apart. The same tools we used in recovery are our best chance at righting those wrongs and giving us the strength to rebuild.
What Worked Then Works Now
When we went to treatment, or entered a 12-Step recovery or similar program, we learned that the process we go through is not a one and done deal. Surrendering, finding strength either within ourselves or a spiritual program, talking about what we were feeling with a support system, looking for our part in situations, making things right, and being of service to others are just a few of the things we learned to do and practice to aid us in our recovery. These tools do not become less important or less relevant as you spend more time recovering, in fact they become even more essential. If you have found yourself at an emotional turning point and situations seem entirely out of your control, turning back to those things we learned to do at the very beginning of our journey is necessary and vital. What does that look like? Some essential tools include:
- Utilizing your support group and having honest and accountable conversations.
Relying on your support group to love you through your hard times is important as you hit a low point in recovery. Trusting them to love you regardless of your faults is a healing part of the process. Their perspective and advice might help you better deal with hard situations and in your honesty you may find that someone has been through a similar experience and can guide you towards making things right.
- Taking an inventory of your behavior.
It’s a much easier and more comfortable process to point the finger at others when we look for “blame.” However, we learned in early recovery that we only have control over our own conduct and our own reaction to others. It’s a valuable tool to take an inventory of our behavior instead of sitting in justified anger as it motivates us to look at ourselves and our own conduct first.
- Making things right with anyone we may have wronged.
Making things right is a different action from merely apologizing. It gives us the chance to not only acknowledge our part in a situation but to ask for the opportunity to correct it. It gives us accountability and it helps us resist blaming the other party for their own involvement.
- Turning to our spirituality.
Whatever practice we believe in, we find that in recovery we are often encouraged to give up the notion that we have complete control in favor of relying on a source greater than us. No matter the practice you may have chosen or how long you’ve been away from it, turning back to a spiritual practice can help you ground and feel centered in taking on rebuilding and making things right.
- Practicing self-care and self-love.
We can be very hard on ourselves. It’s important when we’ve made mistakes or failed to practice what we hope to, that we are kind and gentle with ourselves and that we give ourselves space to be human. Taking the same measures you did to care for yourself in early recovery is just as important when you’ve hit a wall.
Recovery is a lifelong and often beautifully rewarding practice, but it still comes with its ups and downs. When you’ve strayed a little from the path and created some wreckage sober you can always turn back to the basics of recovery and bring yourself back to the place you want to be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Ashley Addiction Treatment is an innovative treatment program located on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Ashley provides support for professionals seeking help with addiction. We are able to help people with co-occurring disorders and offer confidential treatment programs to meet your needs. Please reach out to us today at 800-799-4673.