Resources, Resilience, and Emotional Maturity
If invited to reflect on the state you were in when you made the decision to seek help and begin your recovery, the word that best fits may be ‘bankruptcy’, - sheer exhaustion manifesting itself cognitively, emotionally and physically. Prior to recovery it may have felt as if no resources were available to us, and that we were lost and defeated. But perhaps feeling defeated is a vital prerequisite for desiring change and wanting recovery. As the saying goes ‘One needs to surrender in order to win’.
In recovery we discover a wealth of resources that support us on our journey. We gain access to a wealth of resources, such as fellowship meetings, sponsors, the step work that we did while in treatment along with numerous other supportive resources. We also identify how many internal resources that we can begin to draw from on a daily basis, such as our Higher Power, positive affirmations, meditation, visualisations, and whatever we have discovered works for us. When we establish good habits that employ some of the most beneficial resources in our day to day lives, they come to feel natural and highly supportive.
Knowing and using our resources seems ever more important during times when we are ‘in the storm’, experiencing cravings and the inevitable desire to pick up and turn to our old coping strategies. Because our resources seem unavailable in such moments, it is vital that we have formed good habits and practiced using our resources, such as reaching out, phoning our sponsor and attending meetings, even on ‘good days’. The sad reality is that those that have not are not going to be able to seek support in moments like these.
The invitation is to write yourself a letter of reassurance for you to read and find comfort in when you are ‘in the storm’. When these words have come from our own mind, from a time when felt more resourceful, we are far more likely to believe that this state WILL pass, and that we DO have support around us, and that we CAN survive this momentary craving without turning to old and destructive ways of coping.
Journey to Recovery
The journey to recovery seems to progress through 4 stages resulting in increased emotional maturity and literacy;
- Prior to recovery most of us experienced a conundrum of emotions that did not make much sense. The over all sense was that of great discomfort that propelled us to run away and make ourselves numb to these emotions.
- In recovery we learn to name some of these feelings – allowing us to understand our emotional landscape.
- We come to realise the value of sharing and communicating these emotions, and discovered how that not only helps ourselves but is of value to others.
- We ultimately come to appreciate and welcome our emotions and understand that they come and go and that the entire range of emotions are a gift to us that can teach us a great deal about ourselves and what is going on for us. We come to see that we do not die from feeling certain feelings but that they animate us and give us vitality.
Running away from our emotions by shutting them down and numbing ourselves to them with our previous coping strategies is a powerful form of self-abandonment. However, building the resilience to be with our emotions and express them in a supportive manner is a powerful form of self-care. Recovery offers a unique opportunity to re-discover ourselves, and we may find that only once we stop turning to our addiction do we emotionally mature.