Recovery Workshop: Lesson Sixty-Four
Transitioning to Health
As you have learned from the very beginning, the goal of recovery is NOT to learn to manage your addiction; nor is it even to end your addiction. It is the goal of every healthy recovery to build a values-based foundation that can manage your life with efficiency and fulfillment. If you haven't grasped this yet, you need to. Now.
The Healthy Life
As you grow closer and closer to ending your addiction, it becomes helpful to have a clear understanding of what you should realistically expect on "the other side".
First, there is no "other side". The person that you are now, is the person that you will remain. You will still have the same memories of the addiction as you do now, though they will grow more and more distant as time passes. Eventually, they will become so distant, that it will be like they were experienced in another lifetime.
Like the all or nothing principle, like immediate gratification...this is a phenomenon that appears in just about everyone having made a successful recovery from addiction. Why? Who knows...it just happens.
Second, life will not be perfect. There will still be stress, disappointment, pain...the difference will be, you will have developed a solid foundation of values and skills that will kick in so that these emotions do not become extreme — and force relapse. You will have learned how to manage your emotions in a rational, productive way...and this alone will produce further confidence in your ability to maintain emotional balance.
Third, your urges will not immediately end. This may be frustrating to hear, but it is a reality. Upon making the transition to health, you will not suddenly become immune to the desire to act out. You will not suddenly find others unattractive, or find previously compulsive behaviors unstimulating (well, in some situations, this may indeed happen — but don't expect it). What will happen, is that you will be able to easily recognize these urges, will have a solid understanding of why they are occurring, will have gained experience in dealing with them successfully, will have gained an understanding of what options are available to you, and you will have an emotional reward system in place for perpetuating actions that reinforce your values. And, you will experience the frequency of these urges as being significantly diminished.
By the time you have completed this foundation workshop, you will understand what to do in terms of managing these urges. Six months after this workshop, with your efforts, you will have ingrained these urge control processes. They will feel as natural to you then, as the urges themselves do now. You will see urges not as a threat, but an opportunity to put into place the skills that you have learned. And it will seem natural, not forced. And with each urge that is successfully dealt with, it's power becomes less and less until the "urge" becomes little more than a brief thought — incapable of producing the overwhelming emotions that trigger acting out.Fourth, the true benefit of recovery: you will have gained control over your life. You will have gained confidence in your future and in your ability to commit yourself to that future. You will have set yourself on a path of growth that will infiltrate all other areas of your life. You will know what it is like to live a life that you can proudly share with others, rather than secretly hide from them. You will gain the time and energy to pursue your dreams, and to further develop the relationships that are important to you. You will feel like a role model, rather than a failure. You will feel like a part of life, rather than an outcast. You will look in the mirror, and like what you see. A perfect life? No...but perfect in your intentions to continue growing and developing into the person that you want to be. And such is the essence of a healthy life.
Lesson 64 Exercise:
Take today to envision where you are in your transition to health. What skills do you feel you have worked hard to develop? What skills need additional work? Explore your attitude in regards to whether or not 'addiction' is a part of you; or merely a pattern that developed in your life. Explore your awareness as to the role that your compulsive rituals played...and what it would mean should they return. Explore how you would respond? Explore your confidence level in that response. Explore your overall balance and stability...how much of your life is spent 'fighting urges, managing urges, acting out, engaging in recovery activities, etc.' versus how much of your life is spent just living. Assess your identity for hyper-sexuality. How prevalent is it? Assess your value system. How efficient are you in using it to make decisions, achieve balance, etc.?
Share any significant observations (from the questions listed above or others) in your Recovery Thread.
1) In forming a functional view of addiction and the compulsive rituals that accompany it, workshop participants are asked to select a particular ritual that they have engaged in and identify the overt elements that produce the main stimulation within that ritual (Lesson 17). Elements such as physical stimulation, visual stimulation, fantasy, suspense, etc. are examples of the expected responses. As you should have realized by now, this awareness of the overt elements is essential to advanced urge control and the implementation of reactive action plans. Further, it is not only an awareness of these objective elements that are useful, but the more subtle elements as well — the thoughts ("I shouldn't be doing this"); the preparatory behaviors (securing the lotion, locking the door, etc.); the guilt/shame; the mind games; the post-behavioral rituals — these are all instrumental in awareness and advanced urge control.
2) Consider the evolution of your own awareness from lesson 17 until now. Try to recognize how this awareness has impacted your approach to managing urges/rituals. Or, if it has played little to no role in such management.If you take this awareness and have learned to ignore it, recognize this for yourself now. If you take this awareness and use it as a "red flag" warning that your life is getting out of balance, then recognize that for yourself now
3) Examine the elements of one person who has recently completed Lesson 17 and share with them what you have learned about elements and the practical uses of such awareness. Include the observation of the need to eventually expand this current awareness to include all subtle elements of the rituals as well. No need to teach them why or how, just note to them that they will be continuing to expand their current awareness.