Dear Laura, No one likes me any more, I don’t like myself for the things I have done during my addiction. My wife said she does not feel the same way towards me. She said I have worn her down and all the love is gone. I thought when I got sober that my marriage would improve, but we are headed for divorce. Why are things not turning out for the good?
Dear Friend, please know that your life is not over, good things will happen to those that do good… eventually. It is a sad fact when recovering people, who are eager to repair the damage done by their drug use, realize that the damage has been too great. There is too much hurt. Some things cannot be repaired, many times we cannot get back the supportive partner, the joy of children, the trust of a good boss. This is called the “demoralizing crisis”, when a recovering person realizes that, although a lot of hard work has been done, there are still many critical changes to lifestyle and relationships that need to take place. The next stage in the DMR takes courage, courage to confront the reality of the damage and pay the price to balance their life.
In Stage IV, Middle Recovery, the main theme is “Lifestyle Balance”. The tasks of Middle Recovery are:
- Resolving “The demoralizing crisis”
- Repairing addiction-caused social damage
- Building a balanced lifestyle
The general time line to reach Stage IV recovery is 9 months – 1 year. The brain has healed significantly, distorted thoughts and feelings have been recognized and addressed, actions are beginning to reflect new vaules. Now positive coping skills are being used with success. It is time to take the bandage off the problems that were created by the drug abuser. The “self-first” concept of recovery, was useful for regaining personal control but now the focus must shift to repairing the damage done to others and resolving crucial situations, such as legal problems, education, employment and # 1 safe housing. It is nearly impossible to create a balanced lifestyle homeless.
In the tasks of stage IV, the words “resolving” and “repairing” are directly concerning forgiveness. Self forgiveness must come first, if there is no forgiveness of self, the forgiveness of others will be shallow and unreleasing. Self-forgiveness must be the bridge to be accepting others. If we accept ourselves and forgive ourselves for our wrong doings, our inner development will not allow the cycle of forgiveness to end. But many people get stuck, trying to forgive others but themselves, thus they are never at peace. Viewing life as coming “at” them instead of “through” them.
In the 12 steps, middle recovery uses steps 8,9,10 to help define those that have been hurt by their actions. But step 7 asks God to forgive the individual, and remove the shortcomings which has brought so much hurt. Step 7 must be accomplished with humility, if God forgives you are NOT greater than God, not to forgive yourself.
The individual, with grief lifted, can turn their full attention to gaining the forgiveness of others not only through words, although the apology is a good place to start. “Making Amends” is a life time of looking for opportunities to repay the love loss, there is no end to loving those you have hurt. LOVE is unconditional, but relationships are not. Building new relationships takes two willing people. Showing patience, instead of resentment to those who were hurt by the bad behavior, is a demonstration of the new sobriety values. Taking rejection and disappointments without using alcohol and drugs to bury or lift up hurt feelings. This takes courage, courage to continue, courage to pay the price for choices made and unintended consequences that arose.
This column is for the delivery of alcohol and drug information. Responding to your questions and comments. Remember, if you have a question, many people have that same question. Please ask. Laura