Dangerous points in recovery

I know the look of it. I know how it sounds. It sets off every red flag my instincts have. I know it makes me feel intensely powerless and concerned for the person I care so much for.

I just don’t have a good name for it

I’ve looked into the eyes of far too many good people who have become complacent in their recovery. I see a dullness to their spirit – a lack of willingness to continue growing and healing. I see the diseases of addiction and/or mental illness gradually and insidiously lulling them into the false belief:

“You’re okay now.”

Counselors sometimes call it, “plateauing.”

Recovery and therapy are full of metaphors that are useful, if often cliched. To plateau is like reaching a new point in your journey up a proverbial mountainside. Initially, that’s cause for celebration. It’s a new place in one’s development and restoration. It’s wonderful and full of achievement and satisfaction.

It’s just not a place we can afford to stay very long.

When we remain stagnant, we invite a host of potential problems into our lives. We easily stop engaging in the healthy habits that promoted our success in the first place. We become lax, undisciplined, and unstructured. We’re adrift in the wind, but somehow surprised to find ourselves feeling numb and disconnected.

There’s an emptiness that occurs when we stop being of service to others. Fellowship with kindred spirits is vital to our continued well-being. Most of us grew in recovery by virtue of a chosen family. These are the folks we unwittingly forsake right after we stop paying attending to ourselves.

See, the simple truth is that continuing to grow and heal…hurts. It’s uncomfortable and so much easier not to. I have not enjoyed a single learning experience I’ve had. I’m always grateful for it when I reach the other side, but when I’m going through it, it just, well, sucks.

The simple truth is that without tons of accountability and ongoing support, I will regress. Recovery in every form is a life-long undertaking. I would love to say that I’m no longer likely to fall back into depression because my life is so good today…but I’d be lying.

No matter how wonderful it is, sooner or later it becomes normal and when it becomes normal I stop thinking about it. I stop being grateful for it. I start thinking about everything I’ve always wanted and never had. I start recalling painful times and by that point, the world feels very cold and empty.

I’d like to believe that I have healed so sufficiently that all the dark places in my mind no longer exist. But they do. I wish I could never again feel lonely in a crowd of people. But sometimes I do. I wish that fear was something that has lost the power to paralyze me…but it hasn’t. So, I stay with my tribe and I love them unabashedly.

On my good days I allow myself to receive as fully as I give, but in truth, that remains a work in progress.

Growth doesn’t occur when I’m comfortable. Fortunately, my comfort zone is made of stretchy material and the more I stretch it, the more serenity I experience because I love more, understand more, and most of all, I accept more.

If you have ever suffered greatly, then perhaps these things are true of you too.

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 is the cofounder of Sobernow.com an online addiction recovery program that is affordable and provides complete anonymity