One thing we know quite a bit about is how bad things have been for us in the past. During the worst moments of our addiction, we likely felt as if we were at the bottom of a very deep pit, one that we felt incapable of climbing out of.
Sometimes, we may feel that way still.
Despite all the eloquent words and reassuring comments from others, when the feeling of having hit a wall comes upon us, there’s nothing like it, is there? We want to run away and hide, to do anything to get out from under that terrible feeling. Nobody else can know what we’re going through, isn’t that how we feel? Even if others say they understand, how can they? They’re not in our shoes. They can’t know what it feels like?
If we find ourselves falling into this trap, that’s just our rationalization talking. It’s our inner voice that’s trying to summon us, calling us back into our old addictive ways. What we need to do is learn how to recognize this voice, and give it the boot. Don’t listen to it, for if we do, we’ll just find numerous reasons why we can’t go forward in recovery. We’ll find ourselves saying things to ourselves and others like, "It’s too hard. I can’t make it. I never thought it would be this difficult. I don’t have it in me. You don’t understand…" and on and on.
What a lot of hooey. On the face of it, sure, everyone has problems. There’s not one person in the rooms of recovery who hasn’t thought about how tough this is, this new life of sobriety. We each have our challenges and issues, and, yes, some of them are fairly specific to our individual circumstances. That doesn’t mean that they’re any less rough than the experiences of others, however. Far from it, in fact. If something causes us a problem, then it’s a problem until we learn how to deal with it. That’s the way life goes, and it’s the same thing in recovery.
We will learn as we go how to deal with this or that issue, challenge, obstacle or opportunity. In fact, the more we can look upon experiences that we previously thought of as problems and think of them as opportunities, the more we’ll find that we’re growing.
Of course, in the middle of a huge problem, none of this is going to come top of mind. While we’re struggling to get through some extraordinarily tough issues, for us, at least, all we want to do is make it through. That’s where the advice from recovery experts to keep on going makes a lot of sense. We do want to get past this and somehow learn something from it. Even if what we learn is that our best course of action is to avoid that particular person, place or thing in the future – that’s knowledge that will prove beneficial in our recovery journey.
Sometimes what we’ll learn as we endure a rough patch is that we are more capable than we’ve given ourselves credit for. It was a tough thing to go through, to be sure, but we did it. We didn’t fall apart. We didn’t resort to using again. We kept our resolve, even though it may have been the most difficult thing we’ve ever had to do.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, we made it through with a little help from our friends. If we were cognizant of the immense support and encouragement of our sponsor and fellow 12-step group members, we likely took advantage of this incredible network. Just being around others who have gone through some pretty horrific experiences and came out successfully on the other side is a kind of encouragement that we’d never be able to come up with on our own.
Beyond that, the shared sense of purpose is a tremendously uplifting part of our overall recovery process. Keep in mind that each day only has 24 hours. When something is seemingly intolerable, endless or painful, whatever it may be, if we can keep going today, for 24 hours, tomorrow will be different. We will have made it through a day, despite all our fears that we couldn’t. We may not have the solution after 24 hours, but the situation, the circumstance, will look and be a little different.
Ask for help from others where and when we need it. But do keep on going. It is, after all, the only way that makes sense, the only way that we’ll continue to make progress toward our goals in recovery.