Thursday, March 24, 2016
Today I would like to talk a little about the idea of remaining abstinent and the idea of independence as they inter-relate to each other. A major topic I run into in the course of helping people enter the recovery stream is the overwhelming resistance to having anyone else in "control."
I talked yesterday to a group of recovering people in a round table discussion concerning this issue. We all seemed to agree that thinking we are so independent that we won't accept help is an overwhelming problem for those entering the beginning stages of recovery. One of the women discussed that after being in recovery and remission for over five years she began to have some clarity that her avoidance of being helped or asking for help was a part of her personality long before she became addicted to heroin. It was a major feature of her attitude and behavior since childhood.
A young man said that he had been committed three times for mental illness related to cocaine use but wouldn't think of entering a rehab. He felt like being in mental health based situation was acceptable but a rehab was full of those "addicts" and he didn't think he wanted to hang with them. His resistance to treatment was so strong it convinced him that only a very specific kind of help was acceptable. At the time he felt being emotionally ill was something acceptable. Addiction not so much. Lots of laughs about that one from a lot of people who knew exactly what that felt like.
So today I am posing a couple of questions for us to consider.
WHO IS IT MAKING DECISIONS ABOUT OUR RECOVERY? IS IT OUR GENUINE PERSONALITY? OR IS IT THE ADDICTION PROTECTING ITSELF?
As weird as it sounds lots of times the entity making the decisions in our heads it the addiction attempting to keep our ego conditioning alive and well in the center of our lives. Ego can sound like its protecting us while at the same time reinforcing distance from others, strengthening itself, and a continued development of habit energy that will feed the addiction. This is not a simple issue to work with. It's one of the reasons it really helps to have a friend, counselor, twelve step friend, or family member who you can put some trust in. We do need help in dividing our genuine self from the addicted self. In the past my addicted self would readily lie to get what it perceived it needed. It would lie to anyone. What in the world made me think that it wouldn't lie to my genuine self?
It's one of those painful lessons that come with recovery that is hard fought and not very apparent. How many times have any of us made decisions that at the time seemed to support our recovery and later on we found were the worst decision we could have made? For most of us more than a few times. It's a difficult position we find ourselves in.Who do we trust? Who can we rely on to give us information and perspective? I wish I had some direct answers to those questions. But I don't. The one thing I do know is that at the times I was an active addict most of my decisions were made around supporting the addiction itself. My trust of others was the same amount I had for myself. None.
The times I readily went into inpatient treatment initially looked pretty impressive. I mean even to me at the time it seemed like I was serious about my recovery. I had convinced myself that I was indeed working in my best interest. I wasn't. Did I learn something inpatient? Yes. Every time and the experience and perspective helped me later. But still the initial attempts were made more in the light of wanting to continue my addictive behaviors and needing a time out more than anything. And in truth this seems like a part of a recovery cycle more than anything. I have heard this story from so many people in recovery. The endless area of "I'm not quite ready to quit yet."
So I offer the following suggestions if you are unsure.
We need to trust someone while we are figuring ourselves and our commitment out. So first of all do the work and find some people who tell you the truth. You probably will have some help from your ego because you are not going to like what you hear most of the time and that may be because it's the truth. At the same time find some people who you can be honest with most of the time. It won't do you any good to find people you trust only to lie to them all the time. Try what the people you trust have pointed out as possible directions. You don't have to do everything suggested but if you are at all serious at least try some of it. Check inside for signs of resistance. Sometimes it's an indicator that the addiction is fighting back by pretending to be protective.
I hope some of this helps. It's really about not fooling ourselves anymore and thinking that somehow we can use the same mind that convinced us to be addicts to convince us to be abstinent. Time to seek some different perspective.
As always I love feedback and suggestions.