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Appreciating Positive Influences

In recovery, one can become hostile, angry, or even violent toward those who are simply trying to help us heal. We see their attempts at guiding us toward sobriety as an affront, a lack of compassion for what we’ve just gone through, and mistakenly translate tough love for something less than supportive.  

But what we must remember, always, is that we have likely been in the dark for so long that we’re still blinded by light. Instead of recognizing and appreciating the positive influences in our life, we may be tempted to turn against them. At Cedars at Cobble Hill, we understand – it hurts to be reminded of the past. It even hurts when we try to put it all behind.

Recovery is not easy, not for anyone. Your road to sobriety is likely going to be the most difficult and painful thing you’ll ever have to do. Holding on to whatever positivity you can will be your anchor, your shelter in this great and overwhelming storm.

The following is Jenny’s story.

“What do you think you’re doing?” I screamed, ripping my arm from his grasp. Mike, my cousin, oldest friend and at this moment, the person I hated most, looked solemnly at me. He looked almost helpless, and I might have felt sorry for him if I wasn’t seething with anger.

I’d been “sober” for a month. That’s in quotation marks, because yes, it was a big fat lie. And Mike now knew it. I couldn’t hide it or pretend it away – I was red-faced, toppling over, and ashamed.

***

Six months before, my family and friends had staged a sort of mini intervention in the comfort of my apartment, with my uncle Stan stationed at the door so I couldn’t leave. They had watched me fall into an alcoholic abyss after the dissolution of my five-year marriage and the loss of my unborn child. Kicking and screaming, I told them I had every reason to drink, to be drunk, to swallow away my losses and to escape the nightmare that was my new life.

They weren’t having it.

Within a week they had me in an in-patient facility. I hated them all. But still they persisted, leaving me in the care of the toughest, most compassionate people I’d ever met. Somehow, they understood my pain, the reason for my decline, and helped me unearth a mountain of reasons why I let myself get here. It was magnificent, difficult, joyful, profound… and at once was the best and worst time of my entire life.

12 weeks later, I was renewed.  

I returned to my family with hope. I flooded them with apologies, although I was careful to make promises. I’d been told the road to recovery would be long, and not to kid myself – the desire would come back, but that I’d have to apply my steel will not to flip the pages backwards.

After a few weeks, I felt a surge of confidence. This wasn’t that hard! Why did everyone say it would be? The time at the treatment facility was a nightmare, but this? This was fine. This was good. I could be sober forever.

And I could definitely have a drink here and there and be unaffected. I knew it. I was never addicted, I was just sad. And I wasn’t really sad anymore, so there was no risk here anymore.

But I knew no one else would believe me. So I couldn’t share with them how strong I was. I had hurt them so much already, and I didn’t want them to think I threw away all that money they’d spent for me to get help. They’d eventually realize I was fine. I knew they would. I would give them a year to relax, and then I could be truly myself. But for now, I would go along for the ride and tell them I was 100% dry, and just enjoy a drink now and again as a treat.

***

Mike stood in front of me, calm, and so obviously saddened. “Jen,” he said firmly. That was it. My name hung heavily in the air, filled with Mike’s disappointment and fear. He didn’t need to say anything else, because I already knew.

***

It’s been a year since that day in my apartment. I went back to rehab, found a support group, and started attending church. I’ve found new hobbies (I play disc golf and go horseback riding now), and even moved out of my old apartment. I now live in a condo that’s nowhere near a liquor store. I read often. But most importantly, I stay in the company of my supportive friends and family, the ones who stood by me at my worst, and forced me to look back so I could remember who I was at my best. They were the ones who held a mirror to me so I could see, always, and honestly, who I was deciding to be.

It’s the recognition of what’s positive in life that has been key to my recovery. In the vein of cognitive behavioral therapy, I’ve chosen to change my negative thought patterns and reframe my thinking to look at the positive. While during my first round of sobriety I saw my past as a negative, I now see that as positive too – because after you’ve been in the dark is when you most appreciate the light.  

If you are ready to start your journey to recovery, call us at 1-866-716-2006 or email us at info@cedarscobblehill.com 

If you or your family is struggling with an addiction, please give us a call at 1-866-716-2006 or read about our Cedars Discovery Program, for families struggling with addiction.

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Specializing in the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction, Cedars at Cobble Hill also provide treatment for other process addictions including eating disorders and gambling.