The Reality of Recovery, Part 1

When someone has suffered a trauma, we know they seek to recover a sense of peace and balance – the very thing they lost due to this unexpected event that crashed into their lives. When we refer to addicts & alcoholics, in terms of recovery, in the acceptable sense, we say that these individuals seek to recover their sobriety. Unfortunately what we, as a society miss completely is that sobriety is a goal but not the point. Or you might say, not the punchline. No one would deny that it is a battle to get sober whether its sex, food, smoking, alcohol, PTSD, or drugs you’re struggling to overcome. However, once the battle is won, so to speak, oftentimes families are in tatters, relationships are destroyed, people are separated from those they fought with and for, for this sobriety, floundering, wondering why life is only minimally better after the defeat of the great big ‘ism.’

Recovery it seems, to me, is like child-rearing. Everyone tells you that it’ll change your life and it’s really hard, but they never tell you how gut-wrenchingly bad it will be at times. It’s like that with the healing that accompanies sobriety.  Conquering an addiction is hard. Nailing the root cause of why the addiction began is excruciating. Some people never get to this part of the process. They stick with the 12 steps and go to their meetings, they stay sober, but they never know that life can be better than just drug-less.

Finding the root cause – the ‘why did I choose this method to avoid, not feel, escape, stuff, repress, or hide, what I was feeling and experiencing. Why did I feel so angry, abandoned, powerless to control my circumstances and therefore seek to give up that control to feel whatever pleasure I could grab. This kind of introspection requires an honest most people are not capable of – we like to be liked, we like to please others and we like to look good in front of others.

Even further from this intimate recovery process are the non-addicts – the family members and friends, not because they have suffered at the hands of addictive behaviors – though that’s totally valid but because they have not acknowledged or healed from their part as enablers in the relationships. They are the people who had to deny what they were feeling, experiencing, repressing, and stuffing, keeping secrets about. Spending their time keeping the peace, accepting unacceptable behaviors, making excuses. In their attempt to control, they are as out of control as the addict himself. And codependency now enters the conversation…


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  1. #1 by Chaz on January 27, 2012 - 11:08 pm

    Hi Carolyn… the point you make is one I often share at AA meetings. That of moving beyond just sobriety and an ok life.

    One very telling point to me is the fact that when we talk about working the 12ths step, the context is virtually always the part about carrying the message to other alcoholics. Yet we seldom, in fact, I will be so bold as to say that in my experience, I never hear the other part of the 12th step referenced, which is “tried to practice these principles in all of our affairs”.

    Now I recognize that AA is mainly about getting and staying sober. But the send-off at the end of the 12 step seems to me to be seeking greater healing in all areas of our lives. For me, that means continuing to dig deeper and work more broadly on my defects of character. Why? Because I didn’t get clean and sober just to have an ok life! I didnt get clean and sober just to have another marriage fail or to let myself get unhealthy with bad food, no exercise and become a smoker!

    God did a miracle in saving my life…. it is time to celebrate with a life that lived to its maximum… and I can’t do that hanging onto my old stuff buried deep down beyond the reach of the 12 steps!

    This is an amazing life… why do so many in AA settle for mediocrity?

    Thanks for this post!



    • #2 by Carolyn Moore on January 28, 2012 - 12:40 am

      Chaz – thanks so much for sharing! Staying sober is an amazing thing and I can’t even know how difficult it must be. (My specialty is food and relationships which I will elaborate in the second and third parts of this post.) I’m in the midst of my 12-step programs – Celebrate Recovery, and Alnon and I have a fabulous addiction counselor who has helped me see that if we aren’t healed of the roots of the anxiety and the damage the ‘ism’ has caused in our families and friends that we pass on the damaged behavior as a legacy. So for me ‘sober’ is good but not enough. I’ll share more on that parts 2 and 3. Congratulations on your continuing sobriety and your quest for an ‘abundant’ life! – Carol

  2. #3 by Chaz on January 28, 2012 - 2:15 am

    On the issues of digging deeper into what lies beneath, I oddly found some of the “Inner Child” models and descriptors quite meaningful. I had been scared away from this set of theories in a church setting that preached that it was evil of some kind. But that was years ago, maybe that church has lightened up.

    What struck me so strongly was my recognition that so much of who we are stems from our childhoods and families of origin experiences. Inner Child theory offers a number of descriptions of the dynamics that take place in our families of origin, the impacts on the individuals, and the outcome behaviours that tend to manifest.

    I am by no means dyed in the wool to the theories, I just find some worthwhile relevance. A good site is



    • #4 by Carolyn Moore on January 29, 2012 - 12:49 pm

      Chaz – I don’t know how the ‘church’ in general feels about the inner child models, visualization, meditation, etc. Well, I can guess. While I am spiritually inline with my Lord and I do attend a church, I’m hardly the one to talk to about ‘following the party line.’ Church (as a group of people) can fall short of what we need to heal – but that’s a whole other discussion.

      I do agree that working with that inner child is monumentally important and, actually, tracing behaviors in my family of origin (and my ex’s) was extremely enlightening. I journal (alot) and am working with that ‘child’ to help her grow up (!.) All in the second part of the post on recovery (which now I realize, I’d better get up tonight or tomorrow.)

      I will check out the site you recommended, thanks! – Carol

  3. #5 by Chaz on January 29, 2012 - 6:21 pm

    Looking foward to the next installment of the post. Ciao.


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