“Discovery is marvelous, but recovery is the focus. We can discover many things from insightful self-help books or from a talk-show host. Yet, our experience shows that we cannot read ourselves into true change, and we cannot watch enough television to find healing that lasts. We simply become information gatherers, which is a form of control in itself. If we are simply reading about recovery or watching it on television, we still think we can reason out a solution without doing the actual work of recovery. Our experience shows we cannot recover alone. We need to interact with recovering adult children to practice the principles that bring real results….In ACA, we believe recovery takes regular attendance at ACA meetings. We also must work the Twelve Steps and be willing to talk honestly about what happened to us as we grew up in a dysfunctional home. Recovery takes effort.” ACA Book, p. 50, Chapter 2.
Discovery is really, really great and fun. A never ending supply of revelation awaits us when we embark on the discovery of our inner life and the greater world. However, it is very easy to allow the discovery process to become just another adventure that takes the focus off of the difficult and diligent process of recovery. While our recovery process is full of adventure and even the kind of sober fun we may never have experienced before, with deeper and deeper levels of joy and connection, this, too, can take us far off the path of recovery. We can easily wake up after months of discovery binging and find that we have neglected the fundamentals of the recovery process and fallen into another of what I call the “rabbit holes” of recovery.
It is also tempting, as we are becoming healed in our recovery and beginning to feel like our true selves for, perhaps, the first time in our lives, to want to please those around us and be the old person they remember, or for that matter, the old person we once knew. Recovery takes time, and we may find ourselves in the uncomfortable stages of one, two or three: in a dark night, struggling through the mud, or feeling uncomfortable in our skin as we learn new patterns of thinking. Due to the long uncomfortability, and the uncertainty of those around us, we may find ourselves tempted to check out or regress into old patterns just to feel normal. However, often when we give in to this temptation, the old ways of being simply don’t work the same way they used to, as a psychologist friend likes to say, “you just can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube.” We are in a long, long process of recovery.
But often, we get sidetracked by the discoveries because they may bring a measure of distraction from the painful process or maybe even suggest to us that there is an easier way to get the results we crave. We find the world is full of wonder and beauty, mysteries are unfolding that we tend to feel at a deeper level. We may find it difficult to tell the difference between self- help and our recovery process. We may get involved in processes that help us temporarily, but also we may find ourselves becoming overly enchanted, overly excited and often even borderline addicted to the mystery that exists in this new realm that is opened up to us. The spirituality of the recovery process opens to us and we become fascinated by a realm that possibly did not exist for us before. While we are in the first two stages of recovery (“The Doctor’s Opinion” intro, ACA book) we may be easily led down paths that promise us peace, tranquility and inner harmony only to find later on, as we work our recovery, that these pathways were only keeping us distracted from the deeper level within, where the Higher Power lives and does the work in us.
While it is normal for us to explore spiritual mysteries and become more and more fascinated by what we find, it is crucial that we stay on the path of recovery. As we do, we will learn to discern between all the spiritual processes that range before us, the self-help resources that are abundant in the world and our own true recovery path. We are prone to distractions and pain killers, but the more recovery we engage in, ACA book, Twelve Steps and meetings and meetings after the meetings, the more we are able to build a solid pathway within to the true self and experience the alignment our Higher Power has in store for us. As we do this, we become more stabilized, and make a deeper connection with the Higher Power, the only One that can restore us to sanity (step 2.)
Prayer: Today, I will seek to stay on the path of my recovery. Knowing that the world is beautiful and there are many other wonderful paths to take, recovery is the path that will lead me to my true self. I will trust that as I take the path of recovery, the discoveries sent by my Higher Power will be enough for me today. I will trust in my Higher Power and recovery to be enough to sustain me today.