Learning to Face Life vs. Hide From It
It is not to be expected that an alcoholic employee will receive a disproportionate amount of time and attention. He should not be made a favorite. The right kind of man, the kind who recovers, will not want this sort of thing. He will not impose. Far from it. He will work like the devil and thank you to his dying day. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 149)
This chapter of the Alcoholics Anonymous book is speaking directly to employers working with alcoholics and addicts that are their employees, but this passage reveals something that is much more of a general concept for all involved. Many of us, when we are working through recovery expect the people around us and in some cases the world around us to give us special and delicate treatment because of the fragile nature of recovery. Many of us reached this level of using because of various things that happened in our past etc. and feel as though we are entitled to a special period of a gentle world to get back on track.
That is a wonderful concept and makes some sense, but the truth is that that just aint gonna happen and in reality shouldn’t. The truth is that it is destructive to your long term recovery to build your recovery in this fantasy land and then suddenly after some extended period thrust you into the real world where people are not going to have time to baby you as an individual and expect you to suddenly be able to suck it up and stay sober.
I am not saying that many in recovery do not need to take a break from the extreme chaos of life and start fresh, that a big part of what residential recovery is all about. The thing is that even in residential recovery there should not be a complete babying of a person, then a graduation where that person is suddenly thrown overboard to brave whatever comes and swim to safety somehow. There has to be a level of reality all along to be prepared to deal with the reality of the world when leaving the sheltered environment of a residential recovery program.
For the family and friends around a person in recovery, this is very important for you to understand. There are probably changes that everyone needs to make in terms of interacting with this person and being realistic with this person, but codependently coddling a grown person is not helpful to anyone involved.
For example if a person who has just finished a residential recovery program is perfectly capable of working and paying his or her own bills, it is usually not helpful to have that person sit around the house watching television while you kill yourself trying to pay your bills and theirs also. Some get it in their heads that this is good because we wouldn’t want the person in recovery to get too much stress he or she cannot handle. That might lead to relapse.
The fact is, if that person just finished residential recovery and cannot handle the stress of having a job and paying his or her own bills, that person was not ready to leave that residential program. There is considerably more treatment needed. This person is set up to manipulate and use every person that cares about him or her until they all burn out and that person is left alone and without the abilities and skills needed to survive in life.
A huge part of being able to maintain sobriety is learning how to pull your own weight in life. There are some that are able to do this throughout their using and that is great, but many cannot. Nobody around a person that is struggling to learn to take care of him or herself should make the problem worse by helping a person avoid the very things that will teach the person how to live life.
Recovery is not about learning how to avoid living a normal life particularly the problems that everyone in the world faces. Recovery is learning how to live a sober life in the midst of the ups and downs of life that everyone faces. If a person’s recovery cannot handle the ups and downs of life… THAT PERSON’S RECOVERY CANNOT HANDLE LIFE!!! A recover that cannot handle the tough times is a recovery that is doomed to fail. YOUR RECOVERY IS ONLY AS GOOD AS HOW IT CAN HANDLE THE TOUGH TIMES!!!
For those around us working through the process, your biggest struggle is how to help us face the normal problems of life without either stepping in and doing everything for us or without turning into the angry Grinch that acts like some Marine Drill Instructor always pointing out every wrong and putting us down at every turn in the hope that it makes us tougher. You must be gentle but firm in your own way. You need to stick to your guns as politely as we will allow and in the times where you have to save us from a failure, you need to make sure it is not something we should be saving ourselves from.
Never reduce recovery down to a process of learning how to avoid life. Recovery is the process of learning to face life soberly no matter what life throws at you.
WE ARE THAN LEARNING THAT WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU LEMONS WE DO NOT USE THEM TO GARNISH A MARTINI… WE MAKE LEMONADE TO KEEP US HYDRATED AS WE WORK HARDER.
Stay sober my friends…