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When Recoverees Attack!
“Don't take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering”
― Don Miguel Ruiz
The recovery community has a dark side.
As much as we might want to think otherwise, the harsh truth is that many people experience pain, abuse, and manipulation in spaces where they expect to find experience, strength and hope. I have recently become more aware of this reality as several of my articles have been featured on a handful of recovery blogs. I was surprised to see the response of those who have been wounded by people in recovery.
It is clear that for some people, they have experienced very real pain as a result of the words and actions of others. Some have been brow-beaten with religion under the guise of their recovery program. Others have been ridiculed that they found recovery apart from a 12 step program. Each person, regardless of their circumstance, shares a common experience where these communities and programs diminish recovery, not expand it. In my naiveté, I assumed that efforts to connect with others in recovery always results in positive experiences. What I found out was that I was an easy target for those who were wounded to direct their anger.
My initial response was to fire back, launch a counterattack and defend my position. Instead, I asked a question, “What can I learn from this? What can I adjust in my thinking to be aware of the viewpoint of those who responded?” A few things stood out.
People recover through multiple methods. Reading these post reminds me that 12 Step work is great for some and ineffective for others. The recovery community is as diverse as its residents. The point is seeing people recover, not how their recovery happens. I am grateful for the reminder to be open and available to all avenues of recovery.
Religion can be destructive. Many people in recovery have been victimized by abusive religious communities. As such, anything that carries a hint of religiosity carries with it the risk of re-traumatization. When intense emotion erupts, it is a reminder that those emotions are legitimate for that person. My response should be empathy, not an attempt to justify what works for me.
It is difficult to not take these attacks personally. Instead, I need to own my insensitivity. I need to purpose to do better at being inclusive and tolerant when people express their reality when it is different than mine. I need to focus on being present, curious, and open when people risk revealing themselves and offer them respect and dignity. I should pray, as is common my faith tradition, for them to find the path to sobriety that best fits them. Isn’t that the point of all this helping each other?
After all, addiction is our enemy, not each other.
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