Let\u2019s face it. There are many things we all wish we could do over again \u2013 including those of us who are in recovery. In fact, it\u2019s not stretching it to say that those in recovery anguish more over what\u2019s happened in the past than most people. This is especially true during the first few weeks and months of recovery, or, as it is more commonly referred to, early recovery. It\u2019s this critical time that you often feel confused, uncertain, and emotionally raw. After all, you\u2019ve just been through rehab (if you were lucky enough to be able to take advantage of treatment) and are now attempting to face life clean and sober. For many, this is the first time in a very long time that they\u2019re walking around without being clouded by drugs and alcohol. It can be a shock, especially when you need to face the truths about yourself and your past behavior. Getting your feet firmly planted in sobriety takes a lot of hard work and practice. You need to work the steps, as laid out for you by your 12-step sponsor in self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and others. Besides finding it hard to face your truth, however, the other thing that you\u2019re probably painfully aware of is how much it can hurt. The good news is that while it may hurt for a while, it does get better. What can you do in the meantime to better prepare yourself to face your truth in recovery \u2013 and have it sting a little less? Here are some suggestions you may wish to try. Reconnect With Family You know you don\u2019t recover alone. Sure, it\u2019s you that\u2019s learning how to live your life sans alcohol and drugs, or gambling or compulsive spending, compulsive sexual behavior, overwork and so on. But everyone in your immediate family is also affected by your new-found sobriety. These are your closest allies, the people who know and care about you the most. In an ideal situation, you should be able to turn to them to ask for their support and encouragement as you begin your new life. Establishing a healthier lifestyle, practicing your coping strategies, meeting new friends that share your goals of abstinence, going back to work, and interacting better with your family require a lot. \tTake this opportunity to sit down with the person that\u2019s closest to you, your spouse or partner, and talk about this new chapter in your life. \tIf your past addictive behavior has caused the family great disruption, pain, financial hardship, this is a truth you need to both face and discuss with your family. Do the best you can at this point by just beginning to broach the subject. Ask for patience and understanding as you work through repairing your relationship with your loved ones. Even if your addiction hasn\u2019t caused serious family hardship, there is always the blow-over effect to the rest of the family. You may not see it, but earnest conversation with your loved ones will gradually reveal the truth. Then you can work on a way to mend the damage. \tWhat if your family rejects you? While this may be a temporary \u2013 albeit seriously emotionally wounding \u2013 situation, it may not be permanent. You will need to work on getting stronger in your sobriety, rebuilding your self-esteem, making sure that your words reflect your actions \u2013 mean what you say and say what you mean, and act accordingly. Seek Counseling to Work Out Lingering Emotional and Psychological Issues Chronic addiction, particularly to alcohol and illicit drugs such as methamphetamine and heroin, may result in long-term damage to psychological and emotional well-being. It may be difficult to remember what you did during your deepest days of addiction, or you may have trouble concentrating on things you need to do that you\u2019ve put down as part of your recovery plan. Emotionally you may be all over the place. First you may be elated that you\u2019re in recovery, followed by a sinking feeling that you\u2019re not at all up to this new-found sobriety. Don\u2019t stew in your anxiety or allow depression to linger. If you find yourself feeling anxious, depressed, confused, or hopeless for a period that lasts longer than two weeks, get some help in the form of professional counseling. If continuing care or aftercare is part of your treatment program, what you do next is a natural. Get in touch with your therapist and start working things out. If you don\u2019t have continuing care or never went to formal treatment, you can still find low-cost counseling available by checking with federal, state and local agencies. Start by talking with your doctor and ask for a referral. Check out the various agencies and look for counseling that\u2019s based on ability-to-pay or sliding pay scale. Also check with your 12-step sponsor and ask fellow 12-step group members if they know of counselors that charge low or reasonable fees. It may take some time to wrestle away painful memories and deep-seated emotions, but you can do it. For lingering effects of trauma and\/or post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), look for a therapist that specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Also check for licensed practitioners of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) therapy. For more information on EMDR, check out the EMDR Institute. Attend 12-Step Meetings Regularly The other huge asset you\u2019ve got going for you is the ready support and encouragement you have available in your 12-step groups and 12-step sponsor. The importance of this kind of support cannot be minimized. Indeed, along with your family, 12-step group support is the other most important source of support for you in recovery. In order to benefit from this support, however, you have to make it a practice to regularly attend 12-step meetings. Sure, it may take a bit for you to find a meeting where you feel comfortable and want to come back. There\u2019s nothing that says you have to be limited to one or two groups, either. Go to as many as you like until you find one or more where you feel at ease. You don\u2019t have to put yourself out. Just sit in the rooms and listen to others tell of their experiences. You may hear something that will strike a chord in your mind and give you an idea how to modify a coping technique, for example, to work in your own situation. Gradually, when you settle on a 12-step group that will become your \u201chome\u201d meeting group, you will more than likely start to look forward to seeing the \u201cregulars\u201d there. Some of these individuals may even become friends, but even if you only go because you know you need the structure and stability of others who share sobriety, you\u2019ll learn something new each time you\u2019re there. Facing your truths in recovery will be a little bit easier as time goes by, especially if you listen to and absorb how others handled the transition. Make Your Lists of Hurts and Amends While you\u2019re working your way through the 12-Steps, you\u2019ll inevitably have to come to the steps where you make a list of all the people you have hurt by your addiction. This is undoubtedly one of the painful steps to tackle, as it brings up all kinds of memories you\u2019d rather not contemplate \u2013 but must. Here\u2019s a tip: Just start jotting down things that come to mind. Don\u2019t worry about how you\u2019ll ever be able to make amends for them at this point. The important thing is that you are as complete and concise as possible. Did you rip someone in the family off when you needed cash for drugs? Did you steal from a close friend or your employer to finance your habit? During your alcoholic or drug-fueled binges, did you physically harm another individual? Did someone die as a result of your drunken driving? Did your addiction bring about financial ruin to your family? Did your children stop looking at you as a source of love and guidance, all because you were too consumed by your addiction to be a responsible parent? Big or small, complex or simple, whatever the hurt was that you caused, by omission or commission, you have to write it down. This is your to-do list, meaning these are truths about you, things that you\u2019ve done or said that you\u2019ll have to make amends for. The amends list will come about as a result of working through your hurts list. Each hurt will need to have its own kind of amends. There\u2019s no one-size-fits-all, and what works for someone else may not be appropriate for you. The best person to help you sort through all this is your sponsor. He or she has taken up this responsibility to guide you through the 12-Steps and help you as you make progress in recovery. One thing you\u2019ll find as you make your lists of hurts and amends is that once you\u2019ve put them down on paper, they\u2019ll stop tormenting your mind as much as before. There\u2019s something uniquely healing about acknowledging our faults and failings, and then working earnestly toward making amends that lifts previously intractable burdens. Keep Busy and Meet New People Sticking close to home is often recommended for the first few weeks of recovery. Experts say you should focus almost exclusively on your recovery during this crucial time. Venture out to go to work and school, and to attend your counseling and 12-step meetings. Don\u2019t make any major life changes such as getting married or divorced, buying or selling a house, or having children \u2013 unless it is absolutely necessary or unavoidable. Obviously, if a child is conceived, even if you didn\u2019t plan for it, this is a situation you\u2019ll need to learn how to cope with. But, generally speaking, don\u2019t make any major changes during the first year. With this as preamble, you will find that as you attend meetings, work the Steps and get stronger in recovery that you are ready to get out there and become involved in other activities. You will also be ready to meet new people. Why is this important? The answer is quite simple. You want to develop healthier relationships and become a more well-rounded person. You do this by broadening your horizons, expanding your social network, and getting involved in healthier pursuits. One thing that\u2019s certain to cause trouble is boredom. If you\u2019re bored, or hungry, angry, lonely or tired, you\u2019re more likely to find yourself drifting back into thoughts of using again. You need to keep busy, learning new things, meeting new people, finding purpose and meaning in each day. Learn to Deal With Stress Let\u2019s mention a big item that everyone in recovery has to deal with: stress. The truth is that life is filled with stress. Some stressors are inevitable, caused by high-pressure jobs, having to navigate jammed freeways on a twice-daily basis, trying to raise several pre-school children alone, and so on. But other stressors come and go: dealing with an irate customer, working out an amicable relationship with an abrasive co-worker, finding a parking spot in a crowded mall, even figuring out how to keep the truce among squabbling children at home. Do yourself a favor and learn some stress-busting techniques. For some, that means meditating one or more times each day. Some people burn off stress through vigorous physical exercise while others go on walks or hikes in the neighborhood, at the beach, a nearby park, nature preserve, or lake. Others escape stress by reading a good book, listening to or playing music, dancing, working on hobbies, cooking or entertaining. Here\u2019s another opportunity to ask your fellow 12-step group members how they deal with everyday stresses, as well as major stresses that occur to everyone at some point. As with other recommendations, take what works and use it. Maybe adapt a certain technique that sounds intriguing and workable so that it suits your situation. Over time, you\u2019ll build up a pretty decent toolkit of effective stress-reducing practices. Make Time for Fun Of course, facing your truth in recovery also means that you have to get over the idea that life is all about hardship. You have to absolve yourself of your self-condemnation and get used to the idea that you deserve to enjoy life and to have fun. Yes, fun. Life isn\u2019t \u2013 or shouldn\u2019t be \u2013 just existing. The human spirit is capable of experiencing incredible joy. Up to now, you may have thought it was all bad news and sorrow, but it\u2019s time that you faced up to the reality that there is more ahead of you than you may have thought possible. What do you like \u2013 or love \u2013 to do? Whatever it is, make some time in your schedule to devote to doing it. As long as it is proactive, doesn\u2019t involve use of substances or frequenting places that may be triggers to use, go for it. Be sure that you take care of your recovery-related work first, but do make some time each day that\u2019s just for you. Have some fun today. Smile, laugh, and relax with friends. In fact, nothing feels quite as good as having a good laugh. It\u2019s often contagious, and that\u2019s an incredibly healing experience. Bottom line: When you can wake up each morning and greet the day with enthusiasm, a solid sense of direction, and start to feel hope and joy in your recovery, you will know that you\u2019re on the right path to facing your truths. More than just overcoming the hurt, you will be secure in the knowledge that you\u2019re getting better.