Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Recovery Manifesto: Part Two

When does Recovery begin and when is Recovery achieved?

If we look at Recovery as a lifetime process, then we have to recognize that this is something that is going to look different at 30 days, 90 days, a year, 10 or 20 years. It's also going to vary from one person to another. Someone who shows up at a meeting or treatment center having had no experience whatsoever with Recovery, who has never known a Recovering person, who has no understanding of substance use disorders as diseases and who is overwhelmed with cravings for drugs is going to need a lot of education and support. The phrase that some AA groups used is that a shaky newcomer will need someone to "walk with them." However, someone who shows up having had some experience with treatment, meetings, church, whatever they have done or tried to do to stop drinking or drugging, may be in a very different place. They may not have internalized the process of Recovery, but they have a clue what it is about and what it involves.

The key factor, to me, is hope. Hope is too much of a luxury for many active addicts to even go near. The pain of failure and disappointment has made it excruciating to entertain any hope at all. What we don't have, we take, and the Recovering people who "walk with" the newcomer are the ones he or she takes hope from. In a sense, they have to learn to dare to hope.

The person with some experience, though, may walk through the door with hope. Not a lot; just enough to look around and think with a degree of sanity, not all of these people are liars and predators. Maybe they are just what they appear--ordinary people, getting on with their lives.

Because in Recovery, we share. Not that most of us have all that much materially to share, but there is one thing that we all possess. If we comment, if we are having bad days or good, if we make coffee or put away a chair, or do one of the readings, we share, and what we share is hope, if only because we are doing these things as part of something bigger, a fellowship of Recovery. And that translates into hope. Not a raging inferno of hope, maybe, but more hope than burns on the end of a torch or a zippo. Enough that when it's nurtured a little, begins to burn warm enough to melt some of the ice around the heart, and let the newcomer feel the warmth.

Didn't know you were an Ambassador of Hope? Think again.
More to come.

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