When we begin the recovery process, we enter an international community of people who have all experienced similar struggles and reached a specific place in their journeys as recovering addicts. There are certain things many of us share in common, some unifying aspects of our experience. Our experiences with both addiction and recovery will be unique to us, but there are some things we have in common, and knowing more about them can help us to have a deeper understanding of both ourselves and the nature of addiction recovery. It can also help us to find solace in our difficult times, to know we’re not alone in the struggles we face, and we can be comforted knowing just how universal some of our experiences are.
One thing many of us share in common when in recovery is our firsthand experience with having hit rock bottom. We know personally the painful weight of depression, panic and anxiety. We’ve experienced our stress reach critical levels and our mental health issues becoming debilitating. We know how scary it is to feel paralyzed by a panic attack. We know what it’s like to experience a nervous breakdown. When we hit rock bottom, our pain has become unbearable, and our lives feel unmanageable. We know we can no longer withstand our addictions as they are, and we couldn’t possibly live the way we’ve been living any longer. Our way of life has become unsustainable. For many of us, this experience of hitting rock bottom is the catalyst that initiated our recovery process, the wake-up call to finally get the help we needed. When we use the expression “rock bottom,” those of us in recovery usually know exactly what we’re referring to, and we often have a unique, deeply personal story about our experience with it that often brings back visceral memories of a painfully difficult time.
Another thing many of us share in common as recovering addicts, especially at the beginning of our recovery process, is our vulnerability when it comes to the temptation of addictive urges. We can feel particularly susceptible to our strong cravings, and we can feel as though we’re walking a thin line between successfully recovering and falling off the wagon. We can feel as though we’re always in danger of failing. It can take us a long time to feel as though we’ve accumulated enough time to feel secure in our sobriety, to feel grounded enough to withstand our addictive urges and compulsions. For some of us, we never feel fully confident and secure in our sobriety. Our days are full of anxiety and trepidation around falling back into our old patterns. We may not have changed our self-destructive habits or shed the self-sabotage that was fueling our low self-esteem. We may not have created the new llifestyles or developed the behavioral patterns necessary to support us in our recovery.
When we’re recovering, another thing we share in common is our intense fear of relapse. We can share a tendency to be extra hard on ourselves when it comes to our sobriety. We have high expectations for ourselves that come after years of letting ourselves down. We don’t want to worry our loved ones anymore. We don’t want to continue the same patterns that have caused us so much pain. We’ve experienced the painful disappointment of relapse. We’ve grown accustomed to feeling ashamed of ourselves and being filled with remorse and regret. We want to do better for ourselves, and after years of prioritizing our addictions over our own well-being, we’re ready to put ourselves first.
As recovering addicts, we’ve learned many of the tools we need to help ourselves stay on track with our sobriety. We’ve educated ourselves on addiction and recovery. We’ve learned more about our mental health issues. We’ve done considerable soul searching to know what our emotional issues are, what our stressors and triggers are, and what brings on addictive urges for us. We’ve learned healthy coping skills for those urges, and for our stress, depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. We’ve practiced mindfulness and learned how to meditate. We’ve learned not to let conflict with other people, or their judgment of us, impact us to the point of interfering with our healing. We know not to let external forces derail our progress anymore. At one point we were allowing ourselves to be influenced negatively by our relationships, our interpersonal misunderstandings, stresses at work, and other very common life challenges. Now in recovery, we know that our sobriety must take precedent over everything else. We know we can’t be there for our loved ones in the ways we want to be if we let ourselves get off course. We know how easy it can be for our lives to completely unravel, for us to destroy everything we’ve worked so hard to build for ourselves. We know just how precarious and fragile our sobriety really is. We have a new and profound respect for ourselves that makes us fully committed to our recovery. Before we reached this point, we may have wanted to recover but not had the dedication or the motivation to make it last. We may have been in and out of rehab. Now we know how much is on the line for us. We know how much we have to lose – everything – and we’re prepared to do everything we need to do to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Riverside Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment center offering a full continuum of care for people suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. We understand the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and are here to support you. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.