Making Life and Recovery Manageable

K.I.S.S. stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. Alcoholics, Addicts, Survivors, and Affected Others have a wondrous ability to take something like 2 + 2 and turn it into calculus. We intellectualize, analyze, scrutinize, and think way too much. The reasons for this are simple:

1. We doubt ourselves endlessly – we don’t just second guess we 14th guess ourselves because we fear making mistakes/bad decisions/hurting others.
2. When we’re thinking we are often avoiding feelings (professing to be confused because the simple, truth is unacceptable to us).
3. When we’re thinking we’re often avoiding doing (intellectual procrastination).
4. We’re often trying to find ways to not be powerless over things we cannot control.

Achieving Sobriety/Being Clean/Entering Recovery from past Trauma & Abuse are amongst the hardest choices a human being can make and it is truly a one day at a time proposition. As difficult, scary, and painful as achieving and maintaining these choices are, it is only the beginning of making major life changes. The key distinction between “Sobriety/Abstinence” and “Recovery” is that the first means Putting it Down and the second means Getting Back Up and ultimately attaining a Life that is Happy, Joyous, and Free.

Manageability is at the heart of doing things, “One Day At A Time.” Manageability is a simple concept that we find very difficult to put into action. Through the course of Recovery we are seeking gains in stability, safety, health, and in pursuing life goals in an achievable and realistic manner. We learn Accountability and we put it into action.

Ultimately we have this choice:

We can try to manage our lives alone. This means that we stay scared shitless but are operating from what’s familiar and relatively comfortable. (Losing proposition)
– Or –
We can move outside of what is familiar/comfortable and have support in making changes. This means we never have to be afraid alone again. But we do have to tolerate being uncomfortable often. Rather than agonizing over why people in Recovery Communities Care, we can simply accept that they do (Winning! – though we wish Charlie Sheen hadn’t screwed up that term).

Core Aspects of a Manageable Life:

Spirituality: William James said, “Faith is a bet you can’t lose.” I’ve always loved this. I choose to pray recognizing that if I happen to be wrong in everything that I believe then I am simply talking to myself, which is still a Healthy thing to do. We urge you to believe in something – anything more powerful than you that can help you – Recovery is not about Religion – (unless that’s your thing which is cool with us). Recovery can be about any Spiritual belief that works for you including G.O.D. (AA expression referring to a Group Of Drunks) because AA is more powerful than the individual member. The organization can and will support the person who seeks Sobriety and/or Recovery.

Allowing Others to Support Us: Our Shame and Guilt would have us see ourselves as a burden to friends and family. In truth, allowing those who want to support us to do so helps them to feel less powerless and more involved. Pushing those who love us away is always selfish.
Putting One Foot in Front of the Other: Using the K.I.S.S. system allows us to simply choose to do the next right thing in front of us.

Stress Management as the Pursuit of Serenity: We learned to separate what we have control over and what we do not. We learned to organize, prioritize, and maintain a healthy perspective. We move ever closer to acceptance that the only thing we truly have control over is ourselves.

Anger Management: We learned that anger is a secondary emotion (it never travels alone). We learned to Respond and not React to things we find unacceptable. We learned to:

Deal with F(ing) Feelings: The Good thing about being sober is we feel more. The bad thing about being sober is we feel more. Learning to Cope, Vent, Process, be Accountable (that word cannot be overstated)and to move away from being “terminally unique” (the notion that we are the only ones who feel this way, think this way, act this way).

These Choices will always be uncomfortable to initiate, but they allow us to embrace simplicity, ourselves, and others. Nothing else works.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.