I seem to have developed a bug for writing, it’s incredibly cathartic for me and I can really feel the benefits. If you are still following me, then thank you, I hope I can help you. Today I want to write about barriers to recovery.
That old chestnut hey? It is real, so real and so insidious that you literally have no idea what is going on under the surface. You are completely blind to the effect you are having on yourself and others. You can tell yourself that it isn’t affecting you, or the people you love the most. They can tell you to your face, yet you can still deny that there is any kind of problem. It is absolute insanity. An addiction can have such a hold over you that it distorts your view, rendering you incapable of seeing the truth.
Addiction focuses your mind on one thing and one thing alone. An addicted brain uses so much time and energy that our cognitive ability and memory function decrease. I don’t know if anyone has experienced this, but my memory is terrible and has only really improved since I have addressed my problems and started out on the road to recovery.
“You haven’t got eyes in the back of your head”
I like an analogy an old football coach gave: “If you are in the middle of the pitch, you can’t possibly see the whole game, you don’t have eyes in the back of your head!”. If you are in the middle of an addiction, you can’t see the bigger picture, you are incapable of seeing the effects you are having.
It is only when you can look back at situations with clarity and sobriety that you can really see what was happening. How many times have you woken up in the morning and remembered that you did something you regret? How many times have you woken up and had no idea what you did? Maybe never, if that’s the case then you should either be very proud of yourself or you should do some more research on this subject of denial!
Here are a few examples of denials that I have, some may be familiar!
- I can stop anytime/I am in control
- It isn’t doing me any harm
- This is completely normal behaviour
- I am more fun and confident when I am drunk
These are just a few examples, I have more but I will save those for another day. If you read between the lines in any of my blogs, you will see plenty for yourself!
It is often said that an addict has to hit rock bottom before a real change can be made. This idea that denial is so strong that the body has to push the addicted brain to a point where it cannot possibly ignore the truth. Everyone has a unique bottom (lol), for some it is losing everything, for the lucky ones it is something a little less drastic.
I’m not sure I believe in this theory, I don’t think I have hit rock bottom. If I have, it certainly wasn’t the trigger to this current journey of recovery, it was way in the past. Or maybe it has just taken me this long to realise, perhaps a series of minor bottoms adds up to a rock bottom? I don’t know, but I do need to stop talking about bottoms before this mind of mine wins the battle and writes something filthy.
“If a bottle was opened, it was getting finished”
What is true however, is that there needs to be an event that triggers your decision to make a change. Mine was a realisation that I wasn’t achieving anything by getting blind drunk, that I couldn’t get a little tipsy without going all out. For me, if a bottle was opened it was getting finished. There was no decision making occurring, I was on auto-drink. I made a decision that I didn’t want my drinking habits to have an adverse effect on my family.
If you can get past the denial, then the next barrier, your ego, is even more resilient. It can take years to get though the denial phase, only to be faced with your own worst enemy, your perceived self. I say perceived because it’s not really you. This perceived self is just a tangled up hairball of emotion from past experiences. It is not you, it will never be you. Somewhere deep inside this mess of pain and pleasure is pure love, nothing else and that, is you.
“A daily battle”
To break down the ego is a huge undertaking, it requires persistent meditation and self observation. It is also a daily battle, the ego doesn’t lie down, it fights back. When I feel like I am making progress and let my guard down, my ego pops back up like a jack in the box. As I said, it’s a daily battle!
It is very difficult for our ego to accept that we are fallible. We are so resistant to being wrong or admitting we have made mistakes. It is our ego, our perceived self that needs to be right, that needs to justify our decisions and actions. Therefore we must examine ourselves and we need to do it honestly and with an open heart.
“It’s OK to be critical”
We have been conditioned to just carry on and say we are fine, to have a stiff upper lip. The truth is it’s ok to examine yourself, it’s ok to ask the question “am I not alright?” and it’s definitely OK to be critical. Just the notion of self awareness is, quite frankly, terrifying. You have to be prepared to admit all types of wrongs that you yourself have committed. The ownership of your mistakes is a big step, justifying your errors over years and years only leads to the cementing of your avoidance.
Forgiving yourself, hugging that younger version of you and telling them it is alright is a very valuable exercise. The first time I did this I cried. It has been easier since then, but that first time was surprising, I did not expect that response. It really is self-help 101, unless you can forgive and love yourself you aren’t going to make too much progress.
If you have made it down this far, thank you very much for taking the time to read this. I hope it has helped you as it has me.
I would love to hear more about how others deal with their addictions and habits, please feel free to contact me or comment on this post.
Mucho amor! x