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Expect Two Steps Forward and One Back on the Road to Recovery

There are going to be ups and downs in recovery. In fact, if it were always an uphill route then most people would find recovery an easy path to take. What makes recovery so challenging, but also meaningful, is that it is a process of healing yourself. Any successes you make are made because you changed. Any failures that take place happen because of a choice you made or a behavior you took. What's great about recovery is that you're in the driver's seat.

However, because you're the one who didn't make such good choices in the past (or you wouldn't be in recovery in the first place), then it's likely that you're going to take two steps forward and one step back on the path to sobriety. When we are in a process of healing and learning new ways to manage our lives when we are attempting to get sober. Yet, because old ways of thinking and behaving are so familiar, it's easy to slip into those old patterns. And it's likely that we might forget the new tools and coping skills that help us better manage life.

For instance, let's say you're learning about how to respond to your husband in a more loving way - versus in the emotionally abrasive way you used to when you were drinking. One day, when you've gotten home from work after a long day, some of your old patterns might just slip out. You might inadvertently say a rude comment, pushing him aside just like you used to.

Yet, as soon as you have an opportunity to take a bath, relax, and eat, you realize that the way you treated your spouse was the old you - not the recovering you, not the you that's healing and growing to be more loving towards yourself and others.

This process of learning, forgetting, and adjusting is natural. In recovery, it's frequently a process of taking two steps forward and one step back. It's often a process of learning and becoming more aware and then on a day when it's stressful, you might find yourself forgetting your new coping tools and resorting to your old tactics. It's a process we all go through - whether you're in recovery or not.

The following is  a list of reminders for moving through recovery with as much ease as possible.

·         Hold on to the belief that recovery is possible.

·         Remember that there will be ups and downs.

·         Make sure you know that you can direct the pace of recovery.

·         Get help to stay focused and motivated.

·         Remember to stay sensitive to your emotional and psychological needs.

·         If you’re unsure about how to move forward, ask for help.

·         Make time for yourself and for talking about your process with someone you trust.

·         Discuss any setbacks calmly and safely with a therapist or drug counselor and explore the reasons behind them.

·         Discuss various ways of coping with emotions versus self-harm or relapse.

·         Find extra support when it appears that circumstances might get in the way of recovery, such as spending time with certain friends, or an unexpected emotional challenge that might further the risk of relapse.

When you take that one step back (and everyone does in recovery - even to the point of relapse) remember that overall you're making progress. If you have those feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, perhaps it's best to do a little comparing between your life today and your life 2 years ago. Can you see how far you've come?

When you're not getting into fights with others or when you're no longer isolating, those are good signs that you're staying safe and sober. If you’re experiencing sobriety and if you’re making progress, that’s what matters.

 

 

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Chris Massman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Chris' training includes Family Systems Theory along with numerous other theories. She believes therapy is an art and chooses the theory she feels will most benefit the individual sitting in front of her. Her specialty lies is in the field of Chemical Dependency and Addictions. Chris is currently seeing individuals, couples and families. Chris is a Clinical member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists as well as the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Chris has two locations including Tarzana and Agoura Hills, CA.