It creates so many additional options for those who are helpers (counselors, sponsors, accountability partners, mentors, leaders etc.) and is awesome for people in all stages of a program.
Often I am reminded of my own early Recovery struggles through my social media connections.
I can literally feel the frustration and anger of those who are still navigating, withdrawing, detoxing their bodies and minds, and doing their very best to sort out feelings that they are now having to actually feel.
Typically, anger, sadness and feelings of loneliness are what I hear most about and it definitely takes me back. I understand these feelings. I remember their hold and strength. I remember how very real they are.
I also know I ramble on and on about support systems in Recovery, but I cannot stress enough how damaging isolation in Recovery, (especially early Recovery), can be to any positive progress a person has worked to make.
Here are a few reasons why we have to seek out and UTILIZE support in early Recovery:
1. Our thought processes are skewed.
We may feel like our feelings are accurate, but please listen.
Your feelings are important.
They are relevant.
They are real.
But none of this means they are accurate, realistic, or indicative of truth.
We have to have at least one supportive person in our lives, active in our Recovery journey who is not afraid to lovingly challenge these thought patterns with us and alongside of us.
It is not easy for us to accept this, but when you do, you will begin to see that not everything that we feel is ‘real’.
Over time, we will need less and less help recognizing these feelings.
We will begin to sort them by ourselves and we will get better and better at using our tools to smash the lies that once controlled our thoughts and behavior.
2. We suck at coping. Period.
I have never (ever) met an addict who has healthy coping skills. Not myself, anyone in my family, anyone I have met in a meeting or a treatment center, or online.
Some are better than others, but it is not often an addict (or alcoholic) has exceptional coping mechanisms.
Before we became dependent, chances are we weren’t that great at dealing with the ups, downs and the unexpected that life throws at us.
Generally, we eventually begin to use emotionally. When we are having a tough day, a sad day, an angry day, a stressful day etc. We also begin to use when we are happy, excited, or celebrating something. That about covers using when we are experiencing any significant positive or negative emotion.
By the time we are addicted/dependent and out of control,
these chemicals change what we want to do when we feel feels.
We have taught our brains that when we feel, we must use.
So we get sober. We are ready to rock this Recovery thing. We have decided we are tired, exhausted and done. Many of us have almost died and have no other choice.
This means we feel things. LOTS of things. Some of the cloud lifts, and the fog clears.
We begin to see the shambles of our lives. We aren’t sure what to do. Where do we start? How to we start?
When we start, emotions begin to flood and overflow our hearts and minds.
There are so many unexpected things that happen.
Some things go right one day, and the next, everything sucks.
Some people support us and some don’t.
Some have our backs and most walk away.
We have spells of happy followed quickly by strong feelings of wanting to quit.
Everything that we are going to face at this point requires coping skills that most of us don’t have yet.
Another reason to have at least ONE person who will answer their phone, reply quickly to an email, take us to a meeting or meet with us for coffee.
3. Isolation kills.
Alone with our unhinged emotions and our inability to distinguish truth from the lies that our addiction relentlessly feeds on-
we will disintegrate.
Sadly, many give up or give in and this means death.
Addiction absolutely feeds off of the lies that we have spent so long believing.
Somewhere along the line we began to believe that we couldn’t change, we weren’t worth saving and even if we did try- we wouldn’t be able to conquer this horrible disease.
Your drug of choice needs you to be alone.
It needs you to continue believing that you cannot do it.
It will tell you that there is NO ONE.
NO ONE cares.
NO ONE understands.
NO ONE has EVER been where YOU have.
NO ONE has had it exactly like you.
It needs these lies to trick your mind into feeling powerless.
It won’t stop. It will keep saying these things to you. It will not stop trying to control you.
The only real way to effectively combat it and it’s strength is to abstain from it and feed your brain with TRUTH.
Drive yourself crazy with truth.
Fill your news feed, your inbox, your bookshelf, your prayer time, your meeting time with truth.
Close your mouth and open your ears and heart.
Allow yourself to be open enough to learn from others. Listen to their truth. Share openly when you need to.
SATURATE yourself with so much truth, that the lies get drowned out.
On bad days when you feel like those lies are so loud, remind yourself that it is just a tactic.
A tactic that you once believed to be true, but you are no longer buying it.
It sucks and some days are going to, but it still does not make lies….truth.
Another reason to have at least one person who you can turn to.
Reaching out or making a phone call can be so hard when we are so used to spending our time all alone wallowing in our sorrow.
Reaching out will help us to feel cared for.
Over time we will see that we are not in fact, the ONLY ones.
So if you are struggling or feeling like you are walking alone,
please reach out. Look for a meeting in your area.
Email or call someone. DO something.
Just like no one can force you to choose Recovery, no one can force you to reach out or accept love.
You just have to believe that there ARE people out there who care.
People care if you are struggling.
People care if you are having a tough time.
They just might not be the people who you expected to have in your corner….
but that doesn’t mean your corner is empty.