By Haley Kennedy, Lead Recovery Coach — 9.25.2020 —
When my colleagues and I first brainstormed up this idea of Recovery Corner, my very own blog, I had this image of a space where I could share my personal experiences and beliefs in hopes to reach or help others. Somehow, maybe because of the onset of the pandemic, I took a turn away from personal and focused more on educational. And at the time maybe it was exactly what I felt drawn to, or maybe it was safer for me to avoid the vulnerability of sharing all the messy feelings I was experiencing... I believe all the content was helpful for my audience. But when I sat down to type today, I found myself in a place of reflection.
I think I have shied away from writing from my personal perspective in my recovery process, and focused more on the role I play as a recovery coach… I am choosing to switch gears today. Because not only is it important for Haley, someone recovering from a substance use disorder, but I think it could be helpful for all of you.
Many of us come into recovery feeling very alone. The disease of addiction brings an isolation so deep, that those who have not been there themselves cannot comprehend the complete desolation and despair that we carry with the endless baggage. Hiding becomes a way of life because we can’t bear to be seen in our dreadful state. The shame that lingers above like a dark cloud blocks any real connection with others. We have abandoned our sense of community because it feels safer to be alone. We are plagued with the fear that others may see our behavior for exactly what it is: out of control, dishonest and insane.
This morning, in a training, I was reminded of two of the most powerful words I have ever heard since coming into recovery: “me too”. One of the gifts that come with finding recovery is the power of being understood. Shame and guilt are common because our conscience is marked by our past choices. So, the power of being surrounded by people who truly understand what you have been through and see you as a whole person despite your history, is immeasurable. For me, there was nothing more vital in early recovery. I learned that we do not recover alone. And it was only through other people believing in me, showing comfort, and providing hope, that I was able to see that I was capable of change and worth it.
These days it is just as important that I surround myself with “my people” and feel part of a community. As someone in recovery, and as a mother, I have a terrible habit of thinking I am super woman. I will avoid asking for help and end up completely overwhelmed… therefore incapable, mentally or physically, of taking care of myself, others and my responsibilities. But when I feel “a part of” and surrounded by community, I am reminded that I am not alone in how I feel; actually, far from it. And most, if not all of us, are faced with tremendously difficult circumstances and situations every. single. day. So, spend time with the people you love that make you happy, let go of the things you cannot control, and remember where you came from. Because we don’t grow when things are easy… we grow when we overcome challenges.