Redefining Recovery

Inspired by the book “A Place Called Self”

The dictionary defines recovery as a reclaiming or “return” of something lost. According to this definition, a person recovering from addiction is reclaiming the health, sanity and well-being that may have existed before he or she became addicted. But that is not quite right. Recovery is more like starting over than a restoration of what was lost. This is because, for many of us addicts or alcoholics, the real self was never developed. As we grow up, people in our world frequently become role-bound before we know who we are. We hide early on in our addiction and never fully develop into the emotionally whole human beings we were supposed to be. So when we strip off the false self presented in our addiction, our real self is only partially there. We are a bit stunted, so to speak.

Recovery is a resumption of the work that was not completed when we handed over our lives to our addiction. It is an opportunity to resume the normal process of development that was sidetracked, perhaps first by constrained roles, perhaps by trauma, and then multiplied a thousand times by hiding in the addiction.

And so that is what recovery is: A developmental process of finding and building a new self. Recovery is a process of radical growth and change. When you are in recovery, you give birth to a new self. Is it any surprise then, that it’s painful and it takes time?

So…be patient. Be kind with yourself. You are doing a lot more than quitting a substance. Something bigger is happening inside of you, so be extra loving with yourself as you go thru this process. Do not mistake this with complacency and letting another day go by without working towards the solution. But while you run towards the solution, and towards recovery, keep your eyes and your heart open to what this process is doing to your whole world…and to the person you are becoming through this journey. Recovery is about unlearning bad patterns and re-discovering & reinventing yourself; knowing that this journey will get you to a place that is more magnificent than you ever imagine. And while it’s sometimes difficult to see this (or feel this!), be patient. Be faithful. Have hope. Recovery is not easy, but it is the biggest blessing in the world. And it is worth it.

Yours in recovery, Pamela