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The road to recovery is paved with good intentions. Wait, that isn't right. It's the road to hell. Meh, same thing. In case you missed the title let me say it again, recovery sucks. Yup, that's right I said it. I mean any kind of recovery is a good thing but recovery from addiction actually sucks. Now granted, it's better then the alternative of still using your substance of choice, but that doesn't mean it sucks any less. Just hear me out here. This has nothing to do with going to groups or doing counseling. Those are great. And I'm not saying it sucks cause you can't or won't be using anymore. Trust me, being enthralled in that addiction is much much worse. But recovery isn't much fun either.
It all starts out the same way when you initially stop with the usual physical withdrawal symptoms. My substance of choice was alcohol so those withdrawals usually include the shakes, sweats, delirium tremors, seeing and hearing things, puking your guts out and horrendous nightmares. If your lucky enough it could lead to seizures (which I've had) and psychosis. As long as you get to the hospital soon enough and get stabilized these symptoms tend to only last a few days. The worst part is everything that comes after.
No one tells you the road to recovery is going to be filled with so much emotional turmoil that you have to deal with. It is truly excruciating and exhausting. Did you know there's such a thing as Post-Accute Withdrawal Symptoms? And that these can last up to two years after you stop using? They include a variety of things such as: mood swings, anxiety, depression, irritability, variable energy, lack of concentration, disturbed sleep and of course, cravings. No wonder people relapse so much.
Speaking of relapse, the latest studies show that for those of us who are the furthest gone in terms of their addiction, that only 10 percent of us will fully recover from that addiction. And most people who do go into recovery, about 60 percent of those will relapse within a year. Those odds don't look very encouraging. Technically they're saying I have a 1 in 10 chance of never drinking again. That's assuming I actually do everything I need to to get better. Jeez, as I write this and ponder those numbers it almost makes me want to drink again. Almost.
But honestly those numbers are nothing compared to the emotional turmoil you're put through. Here's a perfect example. I wake up most days pretty positive and happy. I go to work, laugh with my staff, BS customers into buying our products and all around have a great and productive day. It's the end of the day where the turmoil comes. I go home, have a shower, grab a quick bite and settle down to relax and wham it hits me. Not the events of the day but some random negative emotional crap that happened when I was in the throngs of addiction. It could be about someone I hurt, a job I lost, getting kicked out of one of my many rentals, the amount of money I've wasted or any number of things.
In recovery they teach you about CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which means that when negative emotions and events like this enter your mind you should acknowledge them, accept what happened, that it's in the past and you're moving forward, then let it go. If only it were that simple. I personally know that the best thing you can do to make amends for your past actions is to stay sober and show everyone that you've changed your ways. But last night that just wasn't cutting it for me. I was an emotional wreck. My thoughts were all over the place and it kept coming back to one person. Someone close to me whom I hurt.
I said screw it and picked up the phone and let it all out. I apologized for everything I did to this person. All the wrongs I did and the pain I caused. They listened to me and whole heartedly forgave me for everything I'd done. So why didn't I feel any better? Then it hit me. I still have to forgive myself for all those wrongs. Again another thing that seems so simple in theory but is hard to make work in reality.
One of my counselors, (yes I have many) suggested expressing this pain and letting it go in other forms. By meditation, getting back into painting, helping others or maybe just writing it all down. (Hence the article) Will it help? I sure as hell hope so. What if it doesn't? What's the worst that could happen? Some stranger reads this and what? Judges me? Feels sorry for me? But what if it helps them just a little?
Truthfully I'm not writing this for anyone but myself. Recovery teaches you to be selfish. Which in my mind seems counterintuitive. Being selfish and feeding my addiction was what got my in this mess, so how is being selfish going to get me out? It's the realization that addiction selfishness is about self harm while recovery selfishness is about self care. Putting myself first, taking these steps and getting better is what's going to hopefully send me down the right path so I become one of those 10 percent of people who overcome their addiction and can pay it forward before someone else ends up where I am.
Upon reflection I guess recovery isn't all that bad. It's a crap covered road but in the end hopefully I'll come out healed and the pain will have all been worth it. But in the meantime, it still sucks.