The Middle Recovery Blahs
When the urgency passes.
I’ve been going so much longer between issues of this newsletter than I ever meant to. It turns out reflecting on childhood trauma and family dysfunction as it relates to present-day living is, like, not always something I’m eager to cross off my to-do list!
Also, I write about it so much in my fiction—directly or indirectly—that I guess that part of me is often tapped out. On a positive note, I’m grateful for how much growth I have experienced, and I have a feeling that if I’d started this newsletter about ten years ago, you’d be getting multiple paragraphs several times a day.
Early recovery is so intense like that. My journals were chock full of feelings and epiphanies and self-talk, anger and grief and sadness, all of it. And it was such a relief to begin to be able to understand and care for myself that I wanted to talk about it and write about it a lot (after the devastating sense of losing everything that defined me and becoming nothing, of course!).
In a way, I miss that intensity. (Intensity! My drug of choice.) I know it can’t be replicated. And I also know that I’m not done with my reparenting or self-reckoning or growth. While my most acute symptoms were causing me the most acute pain and I sure don’t miss that, this middle part of recovery is also difficult. Some of the things I struggle with the most at this stage are:
Knowing what I want to do with the rest of my life (just a wee issue!)
Learning to have fun and pleasure that isn’t about dissociating
Building a concept of God or a Higher Power that isn’t mediated by my experiences (good or bad) with religious institutions
These are some pretty big projects. So big that, to be honest, I haven’t really known how to start. I know there are sections in the Big Red Book on this, as well as in some of my other recovery books. I feel just old, jaded, and tired enough to find the prospects exhausting.
Lately, I’ve had a number of dreams about my old therapist. I wonder if it’s a sign to return to therapy, or just my brain shaking out old feelings and memories. Whether or not I go back to therapy, back to meetings, or back to my recovery library, I know I have to do something if I want to experience the gifts of growth.
On the other hand, I question if this is more ACOA perfectionism telling me that where I am isn’t good enough and if this restlessness is keeping me from learning how to live in the now rather than falling back into catastrophizing and worry.
For now, here are some good words from the Codependency for Dummies (Darlene Lancer) book I’m always recommending:
Becoming and accepting yourself takes time. Forcing change with constant self-evaluation and self-judgment keeps you stuck, but self-acceptance allows change to happen with little effort. … Love yourself with gentleness and compassion. Modulate your inner voice so it’s calm and kind. … Be the one who is there for you with gentleness and compassion.
How do those of you in middle recovery stages keep up your energy for it?