Recovery is a Lifestyle

Recovery is a Lifestyle

We live in a results-oriented society.  And since we have learned to adapt to our surroundings, we often develop a mask that seems to be results-oriented.  Just like society, we tend to become focused on living a life full of nice things and without noticeable pain.  We learn when we veer from these goals, we are rejected.  We hide the pain of our trauma deep within where nobody can see it.  And we strive for the next best external thing that will make everything okay.

It is not surprising that the recovery world has followed suit.  There are quick fixes everywhere.  There are 6-week programs.  And if 6 weeks isn’t enough to fix all your problems, there are 12 week programs that will surely do it.  There is a pill for every possible symptom you could have.  And if you have more than one symptom, that’s easy.  Just take more than one pill.  It doesn’t matter if they have been tested.  As long as they work, that is what matters.  And if medication isn’t your thing, that’s okay.  You can find foods, supplements and special energy drinks that will fix you right up.

Sound familiar.  I’m sure it does.  I don’t know about you, but I have chased so many quick fixes.  I have looked and looked for the panacea to end the pain, the thing that will finally make me feel good or normal.  But they don’t work because they can’t.  That isn’t how recovery works.  Trauma isn’t healed with a quick fix so we can move on with our beautiful life waiting on the other side.  Life is meant to be messy.  We are meant to feel our emotions.  We are meant to feel unsure and a bit lost (or a lot lost).  We are mean to struggle.  Life can be beautiful, but it is never easy.

When we believe in the quick fix, we get stuck in some beliefs that keep us in an extremely unhappy place.  We might interpret this in three ways.

  1. We see it as a punishment. We can’t recovery because we are being punished for some reason.  We clearly did something wrong.
  2. We think something is wrong with us because we can’t find the quick fix. If we were a better person, a better researcher, a better “recoverer”, we would find the answer.  And we hate ourselves for it.
  3. We feel like we are running out of time. It is too late for the magical answer.  We are too old.  We just have to wait out this life now because we have clearly missed the answer.

Let’s be honest.  It’s probably all three.  Society has us believing that something exists and it doesn’t.  And so we miss the real solution.  This was never meant to be a quick fix.  It was meant to be a lifestyle.  There is no immediate gratification in pain reduction.  There is no project plan to follow.  There is no end date.  There is no end of the rainbow that we need to find.  It really is a journey.

And all of that makes me mad as hell.  I’m sure there are many of you who are cursing my name and wanting to prove me wrong right now.  And I sure hope you do.  But I don’t think you will.  We need to recognize that the cliché is right.  There is no way out but through.  We have to teach ourselves to feel again (we knew how when we were born).  We have to learn to live in the body again.  We have to dig through the pain from our past and feel crappy.  And we have to recover memories if they are there to recover.  And none of that happens overnight.

It happens as a lifestyle.  Recovery happens when we choose to build our awareness in our daily life to how we are reacting and where it might be coming from.  Recovery happens when we grieve the childhood we wanted, not all at one time, but little bits at a time over time.  Recovery happens when we take actions that scare the hell out of us, but we do it anyway, instead of waiting to “feel better before we do them”.  Recovery happens when we commit to writing for five minutes every day (or almost every day).  Recovery happens when we practice managing our thoughts for three minutes here and five minutes there.

There is no end date to recovery.  I know you are not happy to hear it.  But here is the good news.  You don’t have to wait until the end to feel better.  You don’t have to wait to make changes and decisions that change your life.  You will start to see positive results from this lifestyle very early.  You will stop accepting the bad behavior from others.  You will let go of people and things that aren’t healthy for you.  You will start embracing the things you love in life without so much worry about what others think.  These changes will be small, but over time, they will add up, until you wake up one day and wonder how so much changed.

So I ask you to take a different approach, to look at recovery in a different way.  Drop the idea of the panacea and embrace small changes in your daily life that bring awareness and grounding.  Take the opportunity to start your journey now knowing there probably won’t be an end to recovery work, but the sights along the way will be more than you thought possible.  Make a different decision now.  You won’t regret it.

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15 Comments

  1. Beautiful words Elisabeth! As I often say, we all “got” something! Looking for the awe, positives, really good right now moments takes practice, a life time of practice! Keep up the healing! You’re an inspiration.

    Reply
    • Thank you Kathy! You are so right.

      Reply
  2. I feel most people have had a near normal life,where they have both parents together in the same loving house that gentle guide and keep their children safe, and we’re made to feel like they matter,and everything is always going right for them most of the time,instead of losing family members brothers n sisters n mum n dad n first loves, I feel like I was never meant to feel excepted by friends n family

    Reply
    • So many of us feel isolated and different in this way. But there is far, far more childhood pain than we can fathom. Most of it is being ignored, denied and repressed. If we could come together about our pain, we would live in a different world.

      Reply
      • Hi Elisabeth,
        Yesterday I had a huge fall out with my two brothers and my mom… I’m the youngest they are middle children… my mom is extremely manipulative and narcissistic to the point she’s turned us against one another, even now…i finally had my day to confront my brothers after 15 years… mom included(but she still denies her involvement)…i was raised Catholic…i believe half of what they offer and I leave the rest behind…i guess you could say I’m a church hippie…i don’t have a church home when it comes to religion…i don’t believe in religion I just love my God…anyway…
        Here’s the deal…i went to church, talked to God, and afterward was at war with 2 brothers and mom… it was very ugly and the denial was heavy from all 3 of them but I didn’t care I kept saying what my heart felt and it was fucking beautiful and rejuvenating…and then i almost had a panic attack afterward because I could not believe the ugliness that came from all 3… and it was like I had an epiphany moment… the sick ass feeling I had while arguing with the 3…i realized was the same fucked up feeling i carried around as a child and all that bullshit trauma I lived through in this family …but I have to tell you… your reading today hit the nail on the fucking head… it’s like in order to get over something you have to go thru it… and I made it thru that storm last night and here I am feeling great… moment by moment…
        feeling free and energized…i know God had a hand in it because prior to that fight I prayed for answers… and I received them in church… it was amazing…i felt like a fucking soldier going to war… no shame, no regret, no guilt… it was amazing… anyway I wanted to thank you for the confirmation in your article today… this was a moment of healing thru trauma…

        Reply
        • This is so awesome. I love every word of it. From your standing up for yourself to your awareness of those feelings from childhood, this is what healing looks like.

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    • I feel the same way, making friends and keeping them is hard. My family is scattered everywhere. I’ve lost everybody, my parents, my siblings and my extended family members. I ended up growing up completely on my own. I’ve decided to just look after myself and just be happy with the little things that come my way. And rediscover myself. What do I like? And what brings me much needed pleasure/ fun, joy, etc.. And what really matters to me? As for my family well they either like me or they don’t and if they don’t then oh well they’re probably jerks anyway and don’t deserve me.

      Reply
  3. Thank you Elizabeth! This is exactly what I needed to hear! I can definitely relate to this! I wish I could post this to my Facebook page so that people might understand me better and give me a break!

    I have been receiving EMDR therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and I must say I’m impressed. It has helped me immensely. But your right it is a long journey to recovery with many bumps along the road.

    I just wanted to add the importance of self care, really putting yourselves first. We really need this to help nourish our souls. And I don’t mean just eating well and exercising, I mean doing something you love or just getting out there and trying new things that might bring you joy or give you a good laugh while trying.

    Reply
    • Thank you Anna! You are right about the importance of self care.

      Reply
  4. I hate that there isn’t a quick fix. I often find myself on the fence between continuing with the work and just stopping it because life was a lot easier before…but then I remember that two years ago I didn’t even know what happy was…I didn’t know that there were any emotions beyond “bad” ones and “good” ones…I didn’t know I could enjoy time doing nothing – alone – with myself while not being overshceduled. I didn’t know that it was possible to have REAL connections with people… I didn’t know that I would find a way to connect with people outside of pleasing them or gossiping right alongside them. I didn’t know that I would learn how to help people (simply by listening and sharing my story) and really care about them. These are the things that keep me going and digging and pushing through…because I believe there is only more of that to come if I do. A big part of this is thanks to you, Elisabeth. Thank you for being so open, honest and an incredible resource for us all. None of us need anymore lies anyway. You make such a big difference ❤

    Reply
    • Thank you Victoria! This is so beautifully said! And I relate to all of it. I feel honored to have walked with you on your journey.

      Reply
  5. Spot on! I cleaned people’s homes for a year for work as I knew that’s what I needed to do as part of my recovery and from being in a near constant state of distress, psychosis and dissociation. Now I work as a Peer Facilitator training clinicians, doing on one one work and groups. My recovery commitment has paid off it’s a life long journey and the reward is I feel everything deeply including the joy and I get to live this life with authenticity.

    Reply
    • Thank you Kate! You are definitely a shining example of what it looks like to journey in recovery.

      Reply
  6. It happens as a lifestyle. Recovery happens when we choose to build our awareness in our daily life to how we are reacting and where it might be coming from. Recovery happens when we grieve the childhood we wanted, not all at one time, but little bits at a time over time. Recovery happens when we take actions that scare the hell out of us, but we do it anyway, instead of waiting to “feel better before we do them”. Thank you.

    Reply

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Stepping Up:

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