Recovery Bytes

The Pain is in the Resistance, by Derek S.

I first heard this saying from a residential therapist while in a treatment center in 2011. He did not tell it to me once, but every day for the 14 months I was there. Talk about overkill. But the truth is that I needed to hear it that many times, and I still must remind myself to this day that when I’m in any type of spiritual, emotional or physical pain it’s because I’m resistant to what it is.

Think about it like this. If you break your arm, and you tell yourself “oh crap, I just broke my arm,” the pain starts to lessen because you have accepted what is, and hopefully the next step will be you getting medical attention. But if you try to argue with reality you are going to lose every time. If you are a professional at letting go please come find me, and just a suggestion, could someone please write a book on how to “let go” and tell me where to buy it? Oh, wait never mind its called “The Big Book.”

I would love to say that throughout my recovery there has been no resistance and only full acceptance. But that just would not be the truth. There actually was plenty my first time in treatment in 2007 here at TPOT (which was met with resistance), because there was no way they knew who I was. I was just a kid that blacked out at an intersection loaded on opiates and benzos that over did it. Come to find out they knew me better then I knew myself. Again in 2011 as my addiction progressed, I landed in jail for 9 months and then the department of corrections treatment facility for 14 months. In my mind the problem was that I stole everything that was not nailed to the floor, and that I needed to stop that, and surely after being away from drugs and alcohol for that long, I could have just one. We all know how that story goes. Which then landed me back in treatment again in 2015.

Truth be told I needed those past experiences of resistance, though. They put me in a spot to listen to what professionals were telling me.  I wish I could say that the resistance stopped there. But while being in recovery for five years from drugs and alcohol, I resisted asking for help with my eating disorder, believing that I could control it by myself. Filled with fear, shame, guilt and self-hatred, my suffering was in my own resistance. To the opposite of what my mind told me would happen if I asked for help, I was met with nothing but love and compassion. Lesson learned.

The message here is don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. A wise woman once told me “There is no shame in the struggle.” With all that said, I’m no professional at recovery, but I do my best to continue to get out of the way, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. And that is what this program is about for me; reprogramming my old self and my reactions to life. I was the kid who lived in fear, resistance, isolation, and self-reliance. And without all my past experiences, those old ideas do not get challenged and the opportunity for growth and a change in perspective never happens.

To me all these experiences are gifts of the program and my higher power. They help me to better understand his purpose for me and help my self-awareness grow.  Which helps me to know and feel, even on a daily basis, where I am resisting things like change, feelings (good or bad) and life circumstances. And then I get a chance to look at things differently, and sometimes that means having a mental breakdown in a coworker’s office (you know who you are). And thank you by the way – you see it before I see it sometimes. The beauty is getting to that place of acceptance. That is the journey for me. I never doubt that my higher power is always teaching me, but it is up to me to remain teachable. And that is why I need this program in my life daily because I still have lots of learning to do.

If you’re reading this, take a second and ask yourself today “Am I resisting anything?” Maybe you are a free bird, but if not, acknowledge whatever it is – fear of change, feelings (good or bad) or life circumstances. And then ask yourself “okay now what needs to be done?” When I can learn to acknowledge and be grateful for everything that I experience – the good, the bad, the ugly, the uncomfortable, and just see it all as “useful,” I realize that everything is helping me to become a better version of myself. That is heaven on earth for me – a better feeling than any substance ever gave me. Try it for a day, see how it feels. Recovery gives me this gift and I wish this for you as well.