As liberating as it is, recovery unquestionably places an enormous amount of expectations on us. Whether it’s the everyday demands of going to meetings, doing our step work and going to therapy or the long-term goals of rebuilding our careers, reconnecting with our families and building a new life in recovery, it’s easy for us to get overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of it all. If we aren’t careful, feeling overwhelmed can quickly give way to feeling resentful and disinterested. Pretty soon we may start missing meetings, then we may decide that we don’t have to go to therapy this week because we have too much going on. It’s easy to see where we go from here.
We must remember that, above all else, recovery is a gift and a second chance at life. As clichéd as that sentiment can become, it’s often the only thing separating us from abstinence and relapse. Unfortunately we’re under so much pressure to prove our commitment to ourselves and to the people we love that even minor issues can seem like major ordeals. Pretty soon we buy into that perception and it becomes reality as we move further and further toward a setback.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as we feel the pressure start to mount:
Put Us First – One of the ways we commonly get tripped up is our belief that we can please everyone all at once and put our own feelings last. We say yes to everyone’s requests, no matter how much of an inconvenience it may be. At the end of it all day, it’s hard to muster the energy to take care of ourselves properly. Most of us are still trying to figure out our own lives and the more we rush to help others instead of taking the necessary time to heal ourselves, the longer that will take.
The People that Matter Understand – As callous and Darwinian as it may sound, we may not be able to associate with anyone that doesn’t respect that we have to put our recovery first, at least at first. When we feel like we have to miss a family event or say no to a favor, we can’t afford to get bogged down in guilt. The people that have been with us and know the importance of the work that we’re doing will understand why we can’t always be “on” 100 percent of the time.
Nothing Is Accomplished All at Once – As much as we’d like to fix everything in a few days, recovery is a lifelong pursuit. First we fix who we are; then we can start thinking about ways to fix what we did. We have to give ourselves a break and remember to reward ourselves as well. Whether we buy ourselves something nice, take a day off or an extended trip, we can make the recovery process all the sweeter if we celebrate significant milestones in our sobriety.
The notion of “proving ourselves” almost seems self-defeating; but it’s what many of us feel we have to do as we endeavor to transition back into our lives and families during recovery. We can make this process easier, by giving ourselves the time and attention we need to properly heal.