When contemplating sobriety and recovery, there are often numerous questions, concerns and fears that can be very overwhelming. For many, it’s this unknown future in recovery that becomes a potential obstacle for many who are still in active addiction and prevents them from seeking the help they need.
In my own experience as an addict, though I found that my questions were valid, I realized that my fears were my dysfunction’s own defense mechanism. It was my ego’s last-ditch effort to remain in control and keep me in active addiction. More to the point, they were lies I was telling myself; an act of self-sabotage, keeping me from getting the help I needed.
Here are 5 things that you only realize once you’re well into the recovery path.
1. It doesn’t take away your friends.
The first and likely most common lie is that getting into recovery will mean you’ll lose your friends. Instead, what recovery does is shed light on the truth about the individuals you’ve labeled as “friends.” There is a difference. In recovery, you get to learn what friendship and caring really looks like, and assists you in seeking real community only with those who want the best for you. More importantly, recovery gives you the opportunity to become a friend to yourself—your best friend, rather than your own worst enemy.
2. It isn’t boring—unless you are.
One of the biggest lies active addicts tell themselves is that recovery is boring. Of course, that implies that having the disease of addiction is exciting. And, for the record, that points to the degree of irrational thinking running rampant in active addiction.
No disease is exciting. And, therefore, no effort to recover from that disease will be boring. Additionally, the adjective eventually used to define your life in recovery is something only you have control over. It’s up to you to find new ways to have fun and be fun without drugs and alcohol. The recovery community you plug into and the efforts you make to involve yourself in that community will certainly help with that endeavor.
3. It doesn’t destroy your identity.
Though it is certainly a lie to tell yourself that recovery will destroy your identity, it may feel as though it does. In recovery, you will be grieving not only your drug of choice but the life and identity you knew and adhered to in active addiction.
But, in truth, recovery gives you your original identity—the person you were meant to be—and all your potential back to you. It just may take a while for you to recognize yourself, as you’ve likely been missing for some time. For the record, the latter will be true of family members as well. It will take some time for them to see you as you and not the addiction they’ve identified you with for so long.
4. It doesn’t force you into religion.
Although spirituality is a vital part of the recovery process, recovery is not (as your ego may have you believe) a religious cult. And, therefore, it has nothing to do with organized religion.
However, if you find that the recovery program you choose is based on organized religion or follows unethical cult-like standards, simply choose another program. To use that experience as an excuse to return to using substances is addiction rationalizing its way back into your life.
And, with regard to the spiritual paths you want to take in recovery, the options are limitless and can be customized by and for you.
5. It doesn’t require perfection.
The most damaging lie anyone can tell themselves about recovery (whether in recovery or not) is that it requires you to be perfect, because it doesn’t. Recovery is about progress, not perfection.
In fact, relapse is often considered a part of recovery. That isn’t to say that one is guaranteed to relapse, but that if someone does, it is not uncommon and can be expected. While the latter may seem pessimistic, it’s simply a “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” attitude. And, in most cases, that is what keeps people from becoming complacent, which is a dangerous place to be in recovery.
The most important thing to remember when contemplating your future in recovery is that no matter how unknown and, therefore, potentially frightening a life in recovery may be, it certainly can’t be worse than what you’ve already experienced in active addiction. Whatever lies your ego has been telling you to keep you down there, they will become less and less believable in time. so stop buying into them. Instead, seek the truth and the help you need.
As you think of your future in recovery, remember that no matter how unknown and, therefore, potentially frightening this new life may be, it certainly can’t be worse than what you’ve already experienced in active addiction. Regardless of the lies your ego has told you to keep you down, know that they will become less and less believable in time. So instead, stop buying into them now. Seek the truth for yourself and get the help you know you deserve.