The Work of Recovery and the Integrated Soul
Most of us who embark on the path of recovery have heard the phrase, “the work of recovery,” – mostly because it is just that. Work!
Sometimes that work can be slow going and, our new beliefs haven’t quite caught up with our old practices. At that point, we may find ourselves espousing ideologies at meetings or in groups that we may or may not quite own personally yet.
In our early recovery we may be tempted to create personas as if we think living soberly is a performance. After all, many of us did just that in our active addictions just to survive. The persona could go where we couldn’t, and the persona could keep us safe when we weren’t able to actually show up. Ultimately, in our sobriety, we can end up mistaking those personas for our sober selves as well.
Integrating Our Reality and Our Souls
Instead of integrating our reality and letting our recovery work itself into our daily lives, we go right for image management, just like we created the perception that everything was fine and dandy when we were active in our addiction. We may even be tempted to think of sponsors, peers, and fellow recovering friends as people we can’t afford to disappoint for fear of being rejected or abandoned.
From within that kind of mindset, we begin to perpetuate another false self. We have to if we are still trying to function in such black and white thinking. In a black and white worldview, the only safe thing to do is create the person we wish we were and then try to parade it around while it masquerades as us.
In our old lives, we were used to living in a way that said if we can’t change our realities, we would try to change the way we present them, or at least the way people perceive us to be living with them.
What Is True Recovery?
I’m learning that true recovery isn’t about creating a sober persona from which I live, but rather an integrated true self that can be intentional and honest about what is and isn’t authentic about me. This integrated true self isn’t as concerned about being fixed as it is about letting all the complicated parts of me become comfortable with one another and coexist in the same mind and heart. The integrated true self lives in that tension without a substance or a compulsive behavior is true sobriety.
True recovery doesn’t ask us to mask our reality. It asks us to take those things that are imperfect about ourselves and share them with others. It is part of the humility we learn as we learn to surrender.
True recovery doesn’t require me to create a pristine cut-out version of myself and prop it up so I’ll have credibility. Instead, it gives me permission to make peace with who I really am and who I’m hoping to become and to live in the tension of an integrated sober life.