by Joshua Hoe
So, last week I was flying home from my vacation in Los Angeles, California.
It was a really good flight, the seats were actually comfortable (we had this brand new jet with seats designed be someone who was not a torturer – rare in planes), the wireless was really good, and the United app had some great movies.
I had a curiosity about how in the world planes managed to have good wireless. I know a bit about how it all works, but the actual nuts and bolts of the process is not my point.
What if I didn’t understand technology at all.
What if, instead of enjoying the trip, watching good movies, or using the wireless for good stuff – I had spent the whole flight totally consumed with paranoia over what sorcery was beaming wireless through the sky to the plane?
What if I was worried it was something terrible sent by devils?
This sounds crazy, but not as crazy as some of the things I have told myself when I was in the throes of my acting out.
My History of Obsessing
I remember when I was at my worst, I would say things to myself like:
“I am a terrible broken person and if anyone ever knew what I was really like, they wouldn’t ever be so nice to me.”
“I am deep down unlovable, they only like the “fake” me.”
“Yes, sure I won this award, but I don’t deserve it.”
And then at first in recovery I would say things to myself like:
“I should just leave, nobody here will ever really accept me.”
And throughout my life, I also spent so much time imagining all the catastrophes that were about to befall me and spending hours dwelling in them.
And none of these things ended up being true.
The True Story
Almost always, the truth is somewhere between the catastrophes we conjure up and the realities we will face.
Almost always, we will be loved and accepted by some people, even if other don’t like us.
And most important, we have to start with liking ourselves enough to accept recovery.
Addiction almost always starts in some kind of trauma experienced when we are young, as we are struggling to understand why we experience trauma and others do not (or we imagine that they do not) we start to see ourselves as unworthy or broken.
The whole thing is distorted thinking, something that started to help us make sense of things we were too immature to process or understand.
Eventually, the stories we concocted to make everything fit together become attached to our reward systems in our brain through acting out, and then disaster really sets in.
What I am trying to explain is that this catastrophic thinking, this inability to allow ourselves real joy or intimacy, has become part of our cycle – it is our brain keeping the circular gorge and purge path to dopamine operative.
The whole exercise of recovery is to rewire those pathways – to find different patterns to follow to different kinds of rewards.
Acceptance is the answer
We change the path by changing the narrative.
We disrupt the pattern by changing our tune.
Acceptance is the answer.
You have to start accepting that you deserve recovery.
You have to accept that you are worthy of a life worth of joy and intimacy.
You have to accept that your negativity about recovery is just a means of protecting yourself from progress.
Once you start to accept this, everything else will start to fall into place.
Heck, I would suggest you can even “fake it until you make it” and just tell yourself every day that you “deserve recovery” until you start to really believe it.
Even disrupting your cycle in this manner at least might disrupt the seamless operation of your pattern which is at least a step in the right direction.
And even if you don’t believe it, I believe you deserve recovery today.
Every human being is capable of great good and kindness and also capable of great cruelty.
No matter what you have done, or why you think you are unlovable, you can start writing your best story starting today!
Start by trying to accept yourself!
I wish you recovery this year!
What terrible things do you tell yourself about you? Have you struggled with accepting that you deserve recovery? Share your stories, leave a comment (I would love to hear from you)!