During a recent conversation. with a young man, I pointed out that every time we talk, he is focused completely on his battle right now to not give in to his addiction. He may touch briefly on work, or family, or his apartment but even that will focus on how a coworker triggered him or a family member doesn’t understand him and it makes him want to act out, or how he hates his apartment and needs to do something to escape the boredom feels there. So, I asked him, what if I could wave a magic wand and your addiction no longer existed, your desire to act out was gone, what would your life look like then? After a brief pause, he sighed and replied, “I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about that.”
This is a phenomenon I see often in people in recovery, especially in the beginning, but even in some that have been on this journey for years. I personally struggled with this for some time. I knew what I wanted to get away from, but I had no clear picture of where I wanted to be. I explained to the young man that what I saw before me was angry, lonely, unhappy young man and freedom from his addiction would be a positive thing. However, freedom from addiction without addressing the issues that led to his problem and without a vision for what he wanted his life to be will only leave an angry, lonely, unhappy young man without an addiction. What he will find is sobriety without recovery.
A focus on our battle with addiction is critical but it can become all consuming. As I read accounts of men that served in the military and fought in World War 2, I read horrific stories fear and loss. Many times the heroic survivors of battles were asked, “How did you make it through?” Often these men respond with statements like, when things were the worst, I thought about going home, I thought about my girl, my wife, my kids, mom and dad, my little brother or sister. Even amid the battle many of these men clung to a vision of what life could be like when the war was over. We need this kind of vision for our future.
If you’re battling addiction and compulsive behaviors, I want to ask you a question. If I could wave a magic wand and your struggle were to disappear, what would you want your life to look like? Get out a paper and pen and write it down. If you were free from your addiction what would you’re ideal life look like? Are you happy with where you live? Are you happy with what you do to earn a living? Are there relationships with family or friends that you’d like to see restored? What can you do today to begin to see these things happen? A wise man once said, “Without a vision the people perish.” What’s your vision? The answer to this question could be your first step from sobriety to recovery.
If you have questions or you’d like to talk, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.