We’ve all been through difficult times in our lives. It could be anything – sickness, injury, bereavement, financial or family turmoil, addiction or mental health issues. The list is as long as your arm and then some. Such struggles might be in your past, you may be battling them now, or they might be just around the corner, waiting to pounce. We don’t know when, but it’s a nailed on certainty we will all wander into the desert of despair at some point during our lives.
Tragically not all of us emerge from the other side but, for those of us who do, we are changed creatures. The journey takes its toll, we become new creations. Sometimes this means discarding habits and rituals that are detrimental to our well-being, sometimes we pick up new skills and talents. We break apart and grow anew, it is a process, a voyage, an experience unique to who we were and who we want to be. We walk alone.
We recover, but are we recovered? The dictionary definition of the word is ‘to return to a normal state of health, mind or strength.’ It originates from the Latin word ‘recupare’ meaning to ‘get again.’ To recover is to get back to where we once were, to find that moment, place or state of mind we once cherished. It is to return to the status quo, square one, the safe ground we strayed from in the first place. The circle is closed and all is well again.
But is it? When we travel through the trauma of treacle are we ever as we were before? I can only speak of my own story but I am not the person I was ten years ago and I am now in a very different place. I’ve battled demons and they now circle my castle walls, watching and waiting for me to lower my defences, to end my watch and turn my back on their cruel claws and vicious beaks. They want to torment, torture, tear me apart. They do not recognise any truce or treaty. Their war is without end.
I don’t recognise the person I was, so how can I say I’ve recovered? I’m no longer where I was, in fact I’m heading in a very different direction now. Yet, I cannot forget who I was nor my actions, as to do so would allow complacency to creep in. I cannot relax as I know what lies within me, dormant but intact. I unlock the door to that particular cell and the years of hard work are undone in the blink of an eye. I will fall at the feet of my enemy.
The stakes are too high, there is too much on the table for me to rest on laurels. I must be alert, attentive and aware of my flaws and weaknesses. One slip and I will tumble off the cliff, my screams unheard as I fall into the abyss, never to return. I’ll never fully recover as to do so is to relax and declare the war is won. It will never be won, so I write to warn others of the pitfalls and perils I fell foul of. My recovery is a flare, a bell, a klaxon of alarm.
Are you on the other side, or wading through the mire? Either way, do you feel fully recovered? Has every cut and bruise healed, your skin unblemished and rejuvenated? Or do you wear your scars with pride, a red badge of honour to remind yourself and others of the battle ahead and around us. It rages on. My OCD will never go away but I fight it every day, using coping mechanisms other than alcohol to overcome it.
Be confident in your recovery and reach for the stars, but never for one moment think you have recovered. For to do so, is a false flag mentality that could be your ultimate undoing. You are getting there, step by step, and you look forward to what lies ahead. Your new normal will be a better, stronger place than where you were before. You are recovering, you are in recovery, but you must never go back to the place where everything started, where it all began to unravel.