There’s this dance we do in recovery: We take a step forward, freeze, and then we run off the dance floor. We take a step forward and then tell ourselves we did it wrong, or that we’ll only let them down. We take a step toward friendship and support and we leave before they get to see how horrible we (mistakenly) believe we are.

And all the while, we forget that they haven’t always been so healthy. We forget that we’re making an invalid comparison between their insides and our outsides. We forget the incredibly counter-intuitive lesson that it helps them to help us.

We feel like kids in overgrown bodies. Recovery is like a middle school dance and we can’t steel ourselves just to move out of the shadows and ask for what we want.

It’s all a projection

The self-consciousness alone is unbearable and it’s accompanied by insecurity and irrational guilt. We’re so convinced that we’re not good enough that we remain drowning because we’re afraid to impose upon folks to throw us a lifeline.

It’s all a bunch of lies that some sick and selfish people taught us about our worth. If you’re in early recovery then I promise you are not yet a fair judge of self. I promise that no healthy person in recovery perceives you the way you do.

Shame is an addict’s worst enemy. It leaves us pushing away the very people best poised to help us. Shame is LOUD and it’s amplified by the disease telling us that rejection is inevitable and that trusting others will only lead to heartache.

Our choice to embrace some measure of vulnerability is most often a product of desperation. It’s beautiful to watch contingencies and inhibitions fall away. We move forward in recovery because we’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Continued growth

There are countless plateaus in recovery and the most dangerous one is, “I’m ok now.” This is one of the most common lie the disease tells us. Maybe we get a stretch of sobriety and start to feel better. We might even make some gains with our families or other life circumstances. We stop feeling desperate and we often find ourselves withdrawing and working recovery alone.

Continued growth hinges on showing up, having accountability, and continuing to move outside of our comfort zones. Anything less is complacency, which should always be viewed as quicksand – a place we’ll need help emerging from.

Breaking free

Too many of us repeat patterns of behavior that demonstrate the outer edge of our comfort zone. As soon as we hit it – we withdraw, self-destruct, and/or relapse.

Breaking free of patterns is easy to understand and hard to do. All it requires is doing things differently. I urge folks to take stock of their willingness. I’ve learned that it matters very little what we need or want or feel, relative to how vital our willingness to change is.

As the adage goes, “If you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.” Make plans. Utilize a counselor or coach for accountability and follow through.


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