Getting Out- Step 2
Starting the recovery process is not easy. In fact, it is down right hard. Most of us do not have a lot of strength left when we realize that our lives have become unmanageable. Often times, we feel like we are drowning. I know for me, I often described my circumstances as “living in a dark hole” and was stuck. I felt alone, misunderstood and isolated. I didn’t know where to turn or who would help. It can feel like chaos or insanity at times. I had tried reaching out to others in the past and had been let down. I wasn’t sure who to trust. I didn’t even trust myself but I also knew I couldn’t get out of this “hole” alone.
So often when we come to this place in our life, it’s common to return to old habits or ways of coping because that was what comforted us. The addiction was, at one time, our only friend. It reminds me of the log story by Anita Johnston.
Imagine yourself standing in the rain on the bank of a raging river. Suddenly, the water-swollen bank gives way. You fall in and find yourself being tossed around in the rapids. Your efforts to keep afloat are futile and you are drowning. By chance, along comes a huge log and you grab it and hold on tight. The log keeps your head above water and saves your life. Clinging to the log you are swept downstream and eventually come to a place where the water is calm. There, in the distance, you see a riverbank and attempt to swim to shore. You are unable to do so, however, because you are still clinging to the huge log with one arm as you stroke with the other. How ironic. The very thing that saved your life is now getting in the way of your getting where you want to go. There are people on the shore who see you struggle and yell, “Let go of the log!” But you are unable to do so because you have no confidence in your ability to make it shore. And so, very slowly and carefully, you let go of the log and practice floating. When you start to sink, you grab back on. Then you let go of the log and practice treading water, and when you get tired hold on once again. After awhile, you practice swimming around the log once, twice, twenty times, a hundred times, until you gain the strength and confidence you need to swim to shore. Only then do you completely let go of the log.
At Focus, we believe that in order for someone to heal from the disease of addiction, we must treat the whole person. I, too, share this belief for my own personal life. A whole person is made up of mind, body and spirit and each of those pieces needs to be nurtured in order to be healthy and whole. Each person within our support network can nourish us back to health if we are willing to receive it. Our friends, family and clinicians can all be great assets through out our journey to recovery, but for some, it may take more than that. So, what can help us gain the strength to the leave the log once and for all? I will tell you what worked for me.
After the first few months of sobriety I remember feeling a void—a void of the many things that the addiction had seemed to fill. I needed something but I wasn’t sure what it was. Of course the thoughts of substances and unhealthy behaviors would come to mind often, but at that point I really wanted something different. After many unsuccessful trials and errors of trying to fill the void, I realized I needed something bigger than me. I didn’t know what I believed in but I knew I wanted truth and love in my life. This began my spiritual journey. I considered myself a spiritual seeker of sorts and began to explore the religions of the world. I noticed that this spiritual journey began to fill the void. The more I searched for truth, the smaller the void became. My cravings were no longer those of substances but of knowledge, wisdom, connection to others, and above all, Love. For me, this spiritual awakening opened the door to the world around me and I began to see how I fit in it. I was free to explore the possibilities and it opened my mind to a whole new thought process. I specifically remember a growing hunger for knowledge and education, so I went to college. I also wanted to be self-sufficient, so I got a job and a new place to live. Through those experiences I began meeting new people who were different than me. Instead of dismissing them due to their differences, I chose to take a risk and learn more about them. They became like family and they accepted me where I was at. More than anything, I desired a deeper understanding of people, relationships, the world, the universe and the unknown—the scientifically unexplainable parts of the seen and unseen that surround us. I began to yearn for something—someone larger than me. I longed to know and be known by my higher power. This is what I found, or perhaps my higher power found me. Either way, it was unlike any other relationship I had ever experienced. The world around me looked new and beautifully different. Everything took on a new meaning for me and my views began to evolve and take a new form. It was the depth of love I had been longing for. This was it. This was what built up my strength to finally let go of the log that was no longer serving me and held me back from the person I was meant to become. This new relationship with my higher power truly restored me to sanity.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.