“Be what you are. This is the first step toward becoming better than you are.” – Julius Charles Hare, English theological writer (1795-1855)
Wondering where to begin when first entering recovery? One way to really get off track is to attempt to be what you are not. While it is very tempting to want to better ourselves, to improve upon our current state, we have to begin right where we are. That isn’t all bad, however, since we are already a leg up on where we were just a short time ago. After all, we’ve overcome our addiction through treatment, helped considerably by our firm determination to get clean and sober. That tells us a lot about our fortitude and desire to live in sobriety.
At least, it should. It is amazing, though, that so many of us tend to forget all the hard work we’ve already gone through. Faced by the uncertainty of this whole new unknown – living in a clean and sober lifestyle – we may become so frazzled as to believe that we’re inept or incompetent. We may dummy up our external faces to try to portray a calm and self-confidence that we don’t feel at all.
We want others, especially those who’ve put their trust in us and lent us unwavering support, to see us as headed in the right direction, fully capable of embracing this new challenge. Of course, we want that as well, but there’s this lingering shadow of doubt and fear of failure that pecks at our consciousness.
Let’s get back to where we are right now. Instead of putting our feet too far out in front of us, we must begin our recovery journey with the us that is today. That’s an excellent beginning. Why? The simple truth is that we’ve got a long time to make continual changes, since we’ll be in recovery for the rest of our lives. This isn’t a sprint or a long-distance race. It isn’t a race at all, but a way of life that we’ve accepted and committed to.
Taking things one step at a time and not pushing ourselves to the point of exhaustion also alleviates some of the pressure to move faster than we should. Naturally, we want to be able to beat away pesky cravings and urges and long for the day when those will be thankfully gone, for the most part. We can best get to this state of self-confidence in our abilities to withstand and surmount such temptations by learning as much as we can about effective strategies that have worked well for others. We start with what we are today and gradually add new skills to our recovery toolkit.
What is it that we are, anyway, but a human being with an addiction that we’ve overcome who is beginning the journey of recovery? Looking at our newly-embraced state of sobriety this way, it may be a little more palatable, certainly easier to comprehend. We cannot be expected to know everything at once. We’re not superhuman or endowed with magical powers. We come to this beginning point with some strength and a few weaknesses that we’re seeking to improve upon. In this regard, we’re like every other individual who’s ever walked through the doors of the 12-step rooms and begun a life of sobriety.
If we find ourselves trying to measure our accomplishments, or lack of, against those of others in the rooms of recovery, we’re not approaching this new life of sobriety with the self-respect that we should. While we may not think much of our abilities, we should give ourselves credit for having made it this far as well as our courage and determination going forward.
Yes, it is normal to feel a bit dubious, even afraid. What lies ahead may be all new to us. But we can and will enjoy successes in our recovery if we start by accepting who and what we are right now. If we want a better life for ourselves, we need to tackle the challenges as they come, learning from our mistakes and continuing to keep moving ahead.
Don’t allow discouragement to drag us down. There will be some days when things don’t seem to go as planned, while others will be marked by successes due to our efforts. Be mindful always that we get where we want to go, and become better in accordance with our desires, to the extent and as a result of starting with who and what we are today and putting our hearts and souls into it.