Genetics, Cravings, And Alcoholism

Themes and Metaphors of Recovery in The Winter

In Addiction, Recovery by Tree House RecoveryLeave a Comment

Without the winter, we may not be able to so deeply know, recognize, and appreciate the other seasons of the year. Themes about the winter season are as metaphorical and profound as philosophy, poetry, and spirituality. John Steinbeck once wrote, “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” “A vessel is moulded from solid clay;” writes Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching. “To make use of what is here, you must make use of what is not.” Winter time is a polar opposite as well as an entity of its own. The cold temperature, change in atmosphere, barren trees, and other marks of winter abruptly juxtapose the rest of the year full of warmth, color, and abundance. Winter invites us in. Animals hibernate. Humans often hibernate. Though we see winter as a time of lacking, it is a time of great work. Beneath the surface of snow covered ground, the earth is demonstrating incredible strength and ability. Through the frozen temperatures of winter, animals are surviving as are seeds, roots, and plants. When the sun of spring or warmer weather returns and snow turns to water, it saturates and nourishes the soil. This is a metaphor that speaks loudly to us in our recovery.

We never look at our time in active addiction as something that broke us, destroyed us, or made us defunct. Looking at our time in active addiction like a season of winter, we can see that those cold and isolated times of trying conditions were playing their part in a necessary cycle of growth. Beneath the surface, in ways we could not see or imagine, we were being moulded, nourished, and prepared. The cold of winter can sting and be frosty beyond belief. Likewise, addiction can be painful and cause doubt that another season of our lives will ever come around.

When spring comes around, the winter season is not caught without knowledge of how to transition. Even with a hard push, or a few extra weeks of challenging weather, roots push from the ground and warm temperatures reappear. As we enter our recovery, we may not know what we are doing or how we are doing it- but we are suddenly sober, staying sober, and living sober. We are doing it. Like roots pushing from the ground and animals peering out of their burrows and dens, we are taking those first steps into the light, having prepared for it all winter. Simply put, we could not be here if we had not been there.

“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence

Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.

Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.

Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”

― Yoko Ono


Tree House Recovery is a men’s treatment program located in Portland, Oregon. Creating sustainable recovery through sustainable change, our programs help men learn how to live sober with adventurous lives. Call us today for information: (503) 850-2474


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