Responsibility   Leave a comment

Here is the big picture of the day? Who is responsible for your recovery; your doctor, family, friends, or therapist? Ultimately there is only one person truly responsible for your recovery… YOU!  That means, when things are going well you accept your success. However, if things are not going well, you accept your mistakes and acknowledge your poor decision and choices and the consequences of these choices and behaviors. You and you alone are the captain of your destiny.

There is an often quoted and referenced poem that shares much insight into our Recovery. I would like to first share it with you and then discuss it further at its conclusion.

The Hole

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
By Portia Nelson

Chapter One
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost…I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep whole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in…it’s a habit…but,
My eyes are open
I know where I am
It is my fault.
I get out immediately,

Chapter Four
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five
I walk down another street.

Chapter One
Along our road to recovery there are lots of situations that may lead to us finding ourselves in the “Hole of relapse. Sometimes we find ourselves there because we simply do not recognize our symptoms as such when we are experiencing them, until it is too late and we are already in the hole and our illness is out of control. Using another illustration, It is like putting a frog in a pan with water in it on the stove. If you slowly turn the heat up it will never move and eventually will allow itself to boil to death. It is of utmost importance that we know our symptoms and acknowledge them as such when we are experiencing them. Thus, we can jump out of the pan when we feel the heat rising.

On the other hand, it is also possible for us to find ourselves in the midst of the bottom of the hole in relapse with very little or no warning. This is usually as the result of some traumatic news or event. The event is so severe that we just don’t have the strength to withstand.

In either case, we find ourselves feeling lost and helpless, and usually blaming anything or anyone else for where we find ourselves. As long as we are doing so, we can make no progress to dealing with the issues that led to our relapse, and thus we remain at the bottom of the hole.

Chapter Two

There is one simple yet powerful word to summarize Chapter 2, DENIAL.

  • the act of asserting that something alleged is not true
  • a defense mechanism that denies painful thoughts

It is easier to deny and refuse to accept that we are in the midst of relapse, despite its negative consequences, than to face the pain of addressing our issues head on. (We will address this idea further in a future post.) Therefore we still do not take responsibility and we again remain in the hole for longer than we have to do so.

Chapter Three / Chapter 4
There is another old quote that says that “Insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different end.”

As long as we keep walking down the same street, doing the same things, socializing with the same people, the potential will remain for us to fall into the hole again and again. Here is where the “insanity” comes in. Many will consciously or unconsciously make that choice because we had rather deal with pain, which is familiar, rather than to face the unknown emotions, consequences and responsibility of success. We had rather “suffer” in the painful consequences of relapse than face the uncertainty of success. Many of us because of our issues do not believe we are “good enough”  to succeed and finally feel happy and be normal. Eventually, we learn to “navigate” the trouble spots, most days. We still put ourselves in situations where we are reminded of the triggers and pain of the past, our holes. Many of us have lives which resemble a mine field more than a path or road. As long as we are “in the neighborhood” the potential for falling  in will always be there. However, if we do fall in again, we have the insight and wisdom to acknowledge our mistakes and take responsibility for climbing out of the hole. Thus we do so more easily and quickly.

Chapter Five
Finally, at long last we learn that we have the inner strength and value to make better choices so as to avoid the mistakes and suffering that have filled our lives. Not to say our lives will be without triggers and potential and real holes, but we will be more prepared and ready to deal with them when we feel empowered and believe that we are worth it, and we have the strength and tools to deal with what our journey lays before on any given day, if we will just take responsibility to deal with it in the here and now.

So, wherever you are today, in the bottom of your hole, in the process of climbing out, or walking down the street, I hope that you will take responsibility for where you are, how you got there, and most of all for where you are going from here.


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