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Doing the Impossible
"It’s kind of fun doing the impossible." – Walt Disney, American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator and entrepreneur, founder of the Walt Disney Company (1901-1966)
Each of us in recovery can relate to the idea of the impossible. We’ve all been there, right? For starters, many of our friends and family members, our co-workers and neighbors and even casual acquaintances, probably thought that the idea we’d ever get clean and sober and be able to maintain our sobriety was pretty far-fetched.
We more than likely thought the same thing ourselves. After all, didn’t we have to first admit to ourselves that we had a problem and we needed help to overcome it? That likely didn’t happen easily. It may have taken many months or even years of others trying to get us to seek help before we finally had that light bulb go off in our heads, had that moment of truth when we finally recognized that we were doing some serious harm to ourselves and others as a result of our addiction. Even then, however, we probably stalled and excused our actions or thought we needed to have a little more time to make the decision to go in for treatment.
Then there are also the ones among us who were forced into treatment, either as a mandate from our employer, our family’s ultimatum, or even a court ruling that ordered us to rehab. The very idea that we’d come out of that with any positive results probably seemed to many concerned as something of an impossibility.
But guess what? We did make it out on the other side. At least, many of us did. No doubt there are some individuals who are still struggling to keep to treatment without ducking out to use again. Maybe they haven’t yet fully accepted that they can’t go back to their former addictive ways and hope to have any semblance of a normal life.
Getting here to the state of sobriety where we currently reside – that is, our new clean and sober lifestyle – wasn’t easy at all. We may have had some pretty horrendous episodes of indecision, fear, anxiety, shame, guilt, anger and other intense emotional outbreaks since we entered rehab, completed rehab and are now in recovery.
Some days are worse than others. Some days, all we want to do is remain curled up in bed, hiding under the covers away from anyone who’s watching to see if we’ll stumble or make it through the whole day without slipping. We’re supersensitive to what others think, to how they look at us, to what they say and, most of all, how they treat us.
Take the family walking around as if on eggshells, for example. That doesn’t feel very good, does it? Although we can understand their apprehension and even acknowledge that things will be a little tough for a while, it still gnaws at us. We don’t want to be perceived as weak or likely to fail. After all, we’ve got that nagging fear in the back of our minds ourselves. We certainly don’t want to see it in others’ behavior towards us.
Going back to work, should we be so fortunate to still have employment, is also a challenge bordering on the impossible. Everyone will be checking out our every move for signs that we’re crumbling under the pressure, that we can’t take the workload responsibility, that we’re ducking out to drink or use instead of taking lunch. There’s likely a certain amount of self-imposed suspicion that we’re projecting to others, but it still is a concern for many of us. Some of us may even drag our heels at going back to work, using the rationale that we’re not ready yet for that hurdle.
And we may be right about that. We do need to feel ready to resume our normal lives, to go back to work and school and to resume our family responsibilities and obligations. But we definitely shouldn’t rush it. Finding the balance between taking on too much too soon and being laggard out of fear will take some thought. It will also help if we have some constructive discussions with our spouse, partner or loved ones before we attempt a big change like going back to work.
What we will very likely find is that the longer we are in effective recovery – that is, the longer we remain clean and sober – the stronger and more self-confident we feel about our abilities and capabilities. This is especially true when we begin to entertain the thought of taking on new challenges, of embarking upon a new direction and doing something new. There’s always a certain amount of anxiety about the unknown, even if it is something we really want to do.
But it always helps if we’re eagerly anticipating doing something than if we’re dreading talking an issue.
Here’s a thought that may prove helpful. Think about being successful in our endeavors. Envision ourselves not only overcoming obstacles and figuring out a way through difficulties, but also tackling some goal that we’ve set for ourselves that we ardently desire. Picture us being successful. Hold that thought throughout any interim difficulties or obstacles we may encounter along the way. Celebrate interim successes as well, since these will serve to motivate us to keep on going.
Achieving the impossible needn’t be so formidable. In fact, when we can learn to see ourselves being successful, we’re going to begin acting that way in our daily lives. Looking at what we’ve overcome to get there is part of the fun of being there. It makes the victory all that sweeter.
Remember, others have been through these kinds of situations before and likely have much wisdom to impart. Where do we find such wisdom? For starters, it’s likely that our 12-step sponsor has a lot we can learn from, by virtue of his or her own experience freely shared. Others in the rooms of recovery will relate their accounts of how they were able to achieve success in the seemingly impossible goals they set for themselves, or how they got past fears and managed to deal successfully with formerly paralyzing issues and situations.
We can learn from others, but when it comes right down to it, there’s no better teacher than our own experiences. Just keep our eyes, minds, and hearts open, be willing to learn something new every day, and take action instead of just thinking about it. Then, savor the positive outcomes as they occur.