By: Marilyn L. Davis
“The arrogance of success is to think that what we did yesterday is good enough for tomorrow.” ― William Pollard
Recovery Takes Work – Everyday
The success of our recovery depends on maintaining vigilance or awareness. We’ve worked hard to give up drugs and alcohol; that’s the getting into recovery. Unfortunately, some people get complacent or self-satisfied when they have accomplished a part of the whole, and decide they don’t have to do any more than stop using.
It’s rather like someone saying they want to eat some cake for dessert and then stopping with only the eggs and flour in the bowl, but saying, “Look, I’m making a cake. I think I’ll take a break.”
Cakes, Brakes, and Moving Beyond in Our Recovery
No, you are not going to get cake until you mix the eggs with the milk, flour, sugar, and spices in a bowl, grease, and flour a cake pan, pour the batter into the cake pan and put it into the preheated oven for a set amount of time. Next, you can take it out, let it cool, on a rack, and ice if you choose.
Then you have cake.
Then there’s that grinding noise when you apply the brakes to the car, and you decide that you are smart enough to change your brake pads; how hard can it be? You get the car jacked up, the lug nuts loosened; then you find the slider bolts and expose the caliper. So far, so good and you’re feeling a sense of accomplishment.
Now that annoying bolt will not come out, the caliper will not pivot up, and you have a mess. However, you were sure you could fix your brakes cheaper than taking it to someone and paying them because you believed that you understood the conversation in the parking lot about how to change the brake pads.
Feeling like you’ve got it made because you are not using at 90 days, six months, or 1 year is premature, also. While not using is one of the more challenging components of recovery, it is not the only one.
You have simply accomplished not using. It is only the beginning; the eggs in the bowl or the car jacked up.
Staying in Recovery
The next part of your job is staying in recovery, and you can’t let up or rest on your laurels.
Resting on your laurels or accomplishments before fulfilling all the requirements is dangerous. Deciding that you know enough about any particular subject before you investigate all its parts is both arrogant and foolish and in many cases involving addiction, becomes the dangerous side of complacency.
Complacency Moves Us Away From Recovery
How does getting complacent in our recovery set us up?
- Without knowledge and awareness of many of your character defects and the potential harm you will experience because you still use them, you set yourself up for disappointment from friends and family, if not a chemical relapse.
- When you don’t review your past life, you set yourself up to repeat the same self-defeating patterns and experience the same results, only this time, you were not using. Thus, you do not have that excuse for the outcomes.
- Not making concrete plans, with defined actions for attaining goals and sub-goals, you set yourself up to just keep wishing that things were different.
Excitement Might Mean a Relapse
The other drawback to becoming complacent in your recovery is that you might make the mistake of labeling lulls as a boring time, start looking for some excitement and find yourself relapsing.
Recovery is the diligent, continued exploration of self, changing, and growing in awareness. For instance:
- Did you only load the syringe but not use it?
- Did you only fill the pipe but not smoke it?
- Did you only get the prescription filled but not take any?
- Did the bottle get dusty sitting unopened on the shelf?
If you are like most of us addicts and alcoholics, then you probably used. But, in your recovery, you won’t use all the ways to learn about yourself and change
Recommit to the Work of Recovery
There are simply times that everyone in recovery has to recommit to the process of recovery. Learn to view times of slow growth or seemingly no growth as lulls where you are more emotionally steady. These are the times where you are not going to lose sleep with dramatic phone calls in the middle of the night, or you finally experience some serenity in your life.
I have one friend, with double-digit years, who refers to these times as vacations, where the work that she does in recovery is not as difficult. Approaching lulls this way can mean that you get ready for the next adventure, setback, or life. You are authentically grateful for a peaceful time in your life and understand that life and your recovery are subject to change.
However, just as with any vacation, we know that the predictable “Monday” will come around, and we will report back to work. Just as life is not permanent, neither is recovery. There will be times of furious activity, and periods of little movement, times when life is difficult, and times of ease, and that is life and recovery.
Is My Work Productive and Fulfilling?
Therefore, if you find that you are wondering if you can stop working on yourself now, ask yourself if what you might be getting out of your recovery is less than it could be.
Is some of your complacency because you have too much time on your hands?
Go to a meeting early, make the coffee, or better yet, finish that cake and take it to the meeting and let some newcomers see a peaceful person or become grateful that your life is now orderly, structured, and predictable.
Writing, and recovery heals the heart.