What gets lost in the darkness of addiction and early recovery is that people are resilient
My boyfriend thinks I’m crazy because I watch dog rescue videos. They’re sad but I love them and most have a happy ending. Does anyone else watch those rescue dog transformation videos? You see a dog that’s been abused and chained to a fence for years but with the help of a new family, the dog heals physically and emotionally and it all ends happily ever after? I like these videos because they remind me how resilient dogs are and how welcoming they are of a better life and better owners despite the horrors they’ve experienced at the hands of other humans. People are resilient too. It just takes a lot of commitment to stay focused.
People are resilient too but it takes a certain kind of commitment and effort
When you get sober, there is so much to unpack and process. Sometimes the abuse or trauma you’ve suffered isn’t as easy to wash away for a human as it is for a dog. We’re complicated creatures and when things go wrong in our wiring, it’s a whole different thing to rewire. A nice foster family won’t always do the trick. But, I’ve seen people who were ritualistically tortured as children recover and go on to have healthy, happy, normal lives. It’s not that every day is happy or easy, but they’ve learned how to deal with what’s happened to them, and with time and treatment, they do get better. I personally have the life experience of being deeply unhappy and disturbed at one time and that is not at all the situation today. But, I did the work. A lot of work over many years.
What drives me nuts is the people who say nothing works but haven’t tried everything
Guess what? In my recovery journey, I tried things that didn’t work. It didn’t stop my recovery, it stopped whatever treatment was happening and I moved on to another one. I’ve heard so many people over the years point fingers at one type of recovery or another, angry that it didn’t work for them. Instead of being angry, try something else. Again, people are resilient and I believe most people can recover, but it’s hard and it takes work and you have to be willing to keep going no matter what. I had years of feeling discouraged but I didn’t give up and that made all the difference.
Best tips to keep at it
Don’t Give Up
When one treatment doesn’t work, try another. When a sponsor isn’t getting through to you, or the program isn’t getting through to you, try another. Don’t like your therapist? Try another. Don’t like therapy, try something else. I’ve seen people recover through religion, by giving up religion, by going into nature, by taking hallucinogens (although I don’t recommend this one). I know people who think that breathwork and sound baths are responsible for their wellness. I believe my practice of Buddhism helps my recovery, as well as recovery groups, as well as exercise, as well as nature, as well as a healthy partnership, a healthy diet, and a work-life that makes me feel satisfied. Get where I’m going here? It takes a village.
Laugh Every Day
I’ve had tough times in my life. I’ve been estranged from family, I’ve been down and out, I’ve felt a lot of shame about where I was, those were the times it was most important to find a laugh. Find shows that you think are funny, watch youtube videos, read funny books, and just find ways to get that burst of happy endorphins by getting a good laugh as often as possible. Schitt’s Creek and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia have both kept me laughing on unhappy days. Even a good Instagram account will do the trick.
Ask For Help
Someone has been through what you’re going through and can help. Listen for people who have your life experiences if you go to meetings. If you need professional help use one of the many online mental health resources. Talk to friends, family, colleagues, mentors, and anyone you trust who can give you some support or advice to get you through the tough times. It is a sign of strength to be able to ask for help. Struggling in isolation is part of the disease, so resist the urge to suffer in silence.
Make The Journey Fun
Whenever you can, make it fun. I can’t do Soul Cycle anymore because of my back but when I was younger and deeply depressed, a good Soul Cycle class would truly lift my spirits. I’m lucky and have found some great sober friends. They make life so much easier because you can get them to do fun, sober things with you. We didn’t get sober or go into recovery to be bored and miserable, this is the time for you to rediscover when you enjoy and then go do it. Laughter, joy, and connection, are the things that make life livable for people like us. Even the smallest things like a Starbucks on the way to a meeting or a cookie at the meeting trigger good feelings and memories. If I hadn’t found ways to make life enjoyable, I wouldn’t be able to do it.
Connect To Something Bigger Than Yourself
When it’s all about you, it gets weird. Make it about something bigger than yourself. If you are open to spirituality, I recommend it. Having a strong spiritual life, whatever that looks like for you is a game-changer. But, even if that eludes you, find something to care about. Animals, a niece or nephew, just something or someone that you can see ahead of yourself and your immediate needs. Spend time caring and thinking about things other than yourself and see what happens. It might surprise you how much more pleasant life becomes.
These are tips that I believe will help you think outside of yourself and help open your mind to keep going. It does get better and it does take time. But, one step a time is how you get where you want to go.
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