Relapse is a term often applied to substance addiction recovery, but the term also applies…
Turning Points in Recovery
"Life is always at some turning point." – Irwin Edman, American philosopher and professor of philosophy (1896-1954)
When did anything ever stand still in life? Do we know of a single instance where life just stopped? Not from the standpoint of death, since that is a cessation of life. No, we’re talking about living, breathing human beings that we know and interact with on a daily basis. Well, we could extend it to every human being on the face of the earth, but that makes it a little too enormous and overwhelming.
So, we look at the people around us, the ones we work with, go to school with, take care of and love, our neighbors and acquaintances. They’re not frozen in time, like images of people in a painting, are they? They’re moving about, involved in this or that, changing and evolving and going from here to there. At the points where their activities intersect with us, we and they have a choice to continue or to go their separate ways. In this regard, there is always the possibility of a turning point.
Let’s look at recovery, then, and our journey in it as a series of turning points. We made a tremendous turning point in our lives when we made the decision to enter rehab and learn how to overcome our addiction. We know now that this was a tremendously difficult decision, and one that we didn’t arrive at easily. Nevertheless, we made the decision, went into treatment and got clean and sober.
That meant we had another turning point. We went from being addicted to getting clean to entering recovery. But the path of learning didn’t stop there. In fact, it really just began. Once we embraced recovery, even if we did so with trepidation and a certain amount of fear over our ability to remain sober, we began on a journey of self-discovery that encompassed a whole series of turning points.
Turning point one may have been the first week’s celebration of our sobriety, or the first month being sober, or our six-month anniversary and so on. It could be that what we learned during treatment about how to effectively deal with overwhelming cravings and urges finally made sense and we were able to overcome this frightening and recurring situation successfully. Another turning point navigated effectively.
Undoubtedly, we’ve all had a number of circumstances to deal with following our return home from rehab. Even with the best intentions, resuming our home life with family and loved ones isn’t easy, especially if we had been addicted for a long period of time, or if someone in our close circle at home is still using or never took part in family counseling or isn’t supportive of our recovery. Learning how to cope and to successfully reintegrate family life is an episodic journey. It may involve a number of twists and turns, some successes and some trial-and error processes. It is all a matter of turning points.
How we approach navigating turning points depends on our disposition at the moment. But there is something that we can all do to help ensure that we are more successful at figuring out the turning points and how to deal with them than we give ourselves credit for. We need to give ourselves permission to grow. Yes, it is as simple as that. We will make mistakes, but we will also learn from them – if we recognize that this is all part of the healing process.
We won’t magically have all the answers overnight. That never happens, not to us or to anyone else. If we tell ourselves we know it all, it’s a likely sign that we’re blowing hot air. Certainly we are deluding ourselves. There is always something new to learn. Each day brings opportunities to broaden our horizons, to strengthen our recovery foundation, to become more comfortable in our skin, so to speak, doing the work of recovery.
When will we reach the end of the line? When will we know all there is to know and have no more path to travel? If we’re really conscious, that is, living in the moment and doing the best we can in the here and now for our recovery, we will never run out of turning points. True, some will be major ones, while others will be minor points along the way. But as long as we have breath and wake each day to embrace the goodness that life provides, there will be new points of interest, new intersections that point to yet more opportunities, and many more turning points ahead.
And that is what our life in recovery is all about. It is a never-ending journey. Live each moment in the fullest and do our best at every point along the way.