In Recovery, What you Want to Stop is Not Really Important

If All that You Do is Stop Drinking, Using, Feeling Depressed or Anxious… You are Not Really in Recovery

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Recovery is much more than what you want to stop doing, cut back, stay away or abstain from.

  • Abstain from drug use
  • Stay away from alcohol
  • No longer feel sad all of the time
  • Stop feeling overwhelming anxiety
  • End the racing inside of your head

Be open to our flaws?

An open door, open phone, or open wallet does not necessarily mean you have an open mind. You can open your door, your tap, your phone, your paper, your mouth but you can also be closed off, shut down, walls up and mind rigidly protected.

Right now, your body has the urge to open up. You wake up and yawn. Then you stretch. You slowly move and feel a few aches because you haven’t moved for a while. You walk to the kitchen and you pour a glass of water. Then you open your mouth and drink. You walk over to the window and you open the blinds to let in the light. Later you open up your phone or your paper to read the news. You open your door and walk out into your day.

Opening up is so natural that we forget how often we do it. And we forget that opening up is how you feel alive.

There can be a thousand reasons why we learn to shut down: Life moves fast and it can feel overwhelming, we  experience hurt or have our boundaries violated, we may be disappointed or neglected, we may be be humiliated, we may be told that we will never amount to much. Whatever has happened to us, we learn that it feels safer to close off. Addiction help us avoid the pain, or to feel good again. Depression can be numbing and can be a way to fixate on what is overwhelming rather than on the (frightening, overwhelming or uncertain) choices that we can make.

An open door, open phone, or open wallet does not necessarily mean you have an open mind. You can open your door, your tap, your phone, your paper, your mouth but you can also be closed off, shut down, walls up and mind rigidly protected.

Opening up is how you feel and feel alive, how you connect and how you share your gifts with others.  But opening up can also be frightening, even terrifying.

Recovery is opening to one’s flaw or vulnerability and connecting with a similar vulnerability in fellow sufferers. Lawrence Peltz, MD.

Opening to our flaw, our vulnerability, does not have to mean telling your life-story, disclosing your most painful memories, telling others about all of your weaknesses. Opening means acceptance.

  • You cannot change your past, but you can accept it.
  • You cannot control other people or their expectations, but you can accept their decisions without agreeing or approving.
  • You cannot control your thoughts or what pops into your thoughts, but you can learn not to follow each thought like a kitten follows a string.
  • You cannot always control all of your behaviors, but you can accept yourself and that your intention to change is genuine.

Opening is being willing. You may fear crowds, what other people think of you, that people may reject you, that you may be judged, or that you may fail or make mistakes. Being willing to step out, to begin, to invest effort means that you are open to your life.

Rather than stopping, recovery is more about what you begin. It is more about how you open the door to the life that you want to live, and opening to your vulnerability. And yes, opening can be scary but what you will find is the life that you always wanted.

Opening up is saying “yes.” It does not mean jumping off the cliff into the abyss. It can begin with taking one step forward, instead of accepting how your mind tells you that it is too difficult. It can be making the effort to have one conversation rather than isolating. It can happen by taking a walk instead of staying inside, again.

Opening means connecting with other people. It is trusting yourself that you know what feels safe and what is not. It means that you are willing to speak, to hear, to know and be known.

Embracing our wound is the greatest gift we could ever give, or receive. Lawrence Peltz, PhD.

Rather than stopping, recovery is more about what you begin. It is not just in how you shut the door to triggers, old hang-outs, negative friends or decisions to use. It is more about how you open the door to the life that you want to live, and opening to your vulnerability. And yes, opening can be scary but what you will find is the life that you always wanted.

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If you enjoyed this article, I invite you to read some of my other writing:

Addiction and the Urge to Create Distance

Going Slow is the Best Way to Have a Quick Recovery

Dwelling on What Was Will Rob You of What Is

I write articles that talk about the kind of changes I am trying to make in my own life. I hope that my writing also helps you. My topics include addiction and mental health recovery, relationships, and personal growth. I work as an Addiction Therapist, an Editor for the Good Men Project and freelance writer, and Adjunct Professor at City University, Edmonton. But what is most important is that I have a family and I am in recovery from depression and anxiety. My mental health experiences are part of my personal University degree, but they do not define me.

I hope to inspire you, to inform you and on occasion to entertain you. But most of all, I want to connect with you. Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing. If you like what I have to say, please share my work with your friends.

Lastly, if you like my writing, you can click here to vote for my page on Psych Central’s list of mental health blogs.

Keep it Real

Photo by D Brandsma


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