6 Degrees of Recovery
When I was getting sober, I heard very few people talk about stages in recovery - above and beside the 12 step programs. I pined for my bottle for quite a while. It took the edge off of emotional pain, it helped me ignore people who hurt me, It even help me fall in love with people who wanted nothing to do with me. It was my friend and now it was gone forever.
It was very much like being divorced. Knowing that somewhere in the world there was a bottle with your name on it that you will never ever see again. Some people keep going back to their liquid lover like people who are victims of domestic violence. They hope that this time will be different. That somehow if they learn to treat it differently. I will still be able to have this relationship with my bottle without all the accompanying booby traps.
Reading about the stages of grief sounded very much like the pain of leaving my bottle gave to me was a context for what I felt. I never had the pink cloud people talk about. I spend a lot of my time in early recovery thinking that I was really not going to stay. And here we are 23 years later still going strong. here's my idea:
The 6 Stages of Recovery
1. SHOCK & DENIAL-
You will probably react to learning reality of your addiction with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid pain.
2. PAIN & GUILT-
As the shock of detoxing from [fill in the blank] wears off, it can be replaced with mind boggling pain, guilt and anger when you no longer have a mood changer to hide in. It is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape back to alcohol or drugs.
In anger, and you may lash out and blame somebody else. All the emotions you bottled up and drank over start coming out.
4. DEPRESSION, LONELINESS-
You may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of grief will overtake you. This is normal. During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things and people from back in the day. [isolating is bad you need healthier voices to support your healing].
5. HEALING BEGINS-
As you start to adjust to life without your bottle, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your "depression" begins to lift. As your mind clears you will find yourself seeking solutions to problems posed by sober living. Practical and financial problems and reconstructing yourself seem possible.
You will learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation [a sober addict]. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. But you will find a way forward. Staying busy, perhaps helping others will help you start to look forward and actually plan things for the future.
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