Once active addiction is out of our lives, we feel like we can take on anything in the world. Few experiences can compare to the painful darkness of hitting “rock bottom” in our lives as the result of chemical addiction to drugs and alcohol. Only the worst flu or illness could compare to our experience with detox and withdrawals. The challenge we face in treatment of checking into our emotions, becoming vulnerable and raw, learning to calm ourselves, opening up to others, and examining our past is unique. A personal journey of Campbellian or Jungian quality, the intangible foreign lands we journey to in the realms of our minds is often beyond description. If we can overcome this, we tell ourselves, we can overcome anything. Humble, yet proud, we are unknowing experts- a position, which we have learned, truly does empower us to take on the world.
Transitioning from the microcosmic world of our treatment program to the macrocosmic universe of possibility we can be tempted to use the fire of our freedom to charge through life headstrong. For the most part, we are capable. However, we have to remember the chronology of early recovery, however temporary. The brain, though radically changed, is still fragile. Stress, despite our sharpened skills for stress management, can still be overwhelming and act a swift reminder of our status as being in early recovery. Recovery has made us stronger, more capable men, but it has not made us invincible. What recovery has done for us is generously provided lessons in vulnerability and humility, educating us in the importance of asking for help.
Life on life’s terms is a term we use in recovery to describe the many ups, downs, negotiables, and non-negotiables that life brings our way. Life, whether we like it or not, happens to us, sometimes in ways that we are not immediately informed on how to handle. When such moments arise it is paramount that we ask for help and become willing to receive direction. Should we continue to take more and more on our own shoulders, we set ourselves down a dangerous path. Putting more weight on our shoulders we start to experience shame for not being able to handle the stress, guilt for faltering in taking on so much stress and not being able to handle it, then anger that we will not help ourselves by asking for someone else to help us. As men in early recovery for whom the last drink or drug is not far behind them, our brains are still wired to default to a simple solution: use drugs and alcohol. We aren’t still “addicted” and we aren’t “failing” at recovery. We are learning how to gauge our abilities, putting new tools into practice, asking for help, and changing our brains, one day at a time.
At Tree House Recovery, we are setting men up to have no limits in life. Strengthening our residents in mind, body, and spirit, our intensive long-term programs show men how to make the most of their new life sober. Creating sustainable recovery through sustainable change, our programs are teaching men how to find freedom from addiction. Call us today for information on our Portland, Oregon programs: (503) 850-2474