Friday, July 1, 2011

Ego and Recovery

Ego and Recovery

Egos and addiction recovery go together like cupcakes and garlic. There are some combinations that just don’t belong together and leave a bad taste in your mouth. You see it every day in addiction recovery forum discussions. One person’s road to recovery can’t possibly be any good because it’s not the same as another’s. What?! You overcame addiction some way different than mine? IMPOSSIBLE, IDIOT. Can’t you see that? What is wrong with you? You must be blind to the one and only truth, which is, of course, my truth.

It’s ironic, really. The same over-inflated egos we use to beat one another over the heads also block our own path to recovery. In its simplest form, ego is defined as one’s “wants and needs” – the same wants and needs that cause many people to view ourselves as the center of our own tiny universe. The same wants and needs that kept us in denial and fed our addiction when we were using or drinking. And the same wants and needs that assure us our views and beliefs are superior to others and blind us to the true meaning of recovery.

Acceptance plays a huge role in the recovery process. Before any of us could learn to stop drinking or using, we had to accept the fact that we had a problem. Most of us also had to accept the problem was out of control and that we needed help to fix it. Many used a 12 Step approach, while others found solutions through alternative support groups or non-traditional methods. Some even learned to kick the habit alone, with no one’s help. The latter group is a favorite target for some and they’re often labeled as dry drunks, not recovering addicts, and are dismissed as fools. Just because we’ve been told its impossible to beat addiction alone doesn’t necessarily make it so. While it might be true for some of us, it might very well be different for others. Why? Because people vary and there’s more than one way to peel an onion. Who are any of us to ridicule other techniques or point fingers at those who choose a path different than our own? Dire warnings of relapse and ruination, followed by claims that there is only one true path to recovery, is just another of saying it’s my way or the highway. Such thinking is the exact opposite of the recovery lessons we’ve been taught and should have learned. If we haven’t learned yet, then we need go back to Acceptance 101 class and start over.

If I were a struggling addict looking for online recovery group help and saw so-called recovering addicts pounding one another over the head with their beliefs, I’d probably walk right back out again. Recovery is all about sharing the blessings we’ve received with others, and acceptance is the key to recovery. Not just accepting my recovery program, or yours, but everyone’s.

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