Recovery, Change and Oysters
Pretty much everyone in recovery would agree with the statement “Change is hard.”
But when you really get down to brass tacks with people who don’t ever change, who seem to be working on the same issues forever—whether it’s staying clean or becoming happy or having a decent relationship—it often turns out they haven’t really tried anything new after all.
That’s because before change is hard it’s irritating. Sometimes really irritating.
In the beginning of our recovery, we heard, “You need to go to a lot of meetings, maybe every day.” Or, “Cut loose all your old friends”. Or “Stop doing that!” Or, “That’s dangerous!” Or, “You need to stop talking and start listening”.
To many of us this seemed really extreme. We were looking advice on quitting drinking and using, not joining a cult! All this “all or nothing” stuff sounded fanatical.
But recovery is about drastic changes because addiction is a drastic problem. It’s not a problem like we’ve put on a few pounds. It’s a problem like we’re about to drive over a cliff. So early recovery advice isn’t like “Cut down on candy and french fries.” It’s more like, “Slam on your breaks or you’ll be killed!”
As the saying goes, “You only need to change one thing in recovery. Everything!”
But when we start to change, it’s still irritating. Our changes don’t fit yet. We aren’t used to them and they are uncomfortable. Like gravel in our shoe or sand in our shorts. We may feel we were happier with our old ways.
We need to take a tip from how oysters handle irritating sand. They don’t spit it out. They let it stay there and work with it until they get used to it and it becomes a pearl. It stops irritating them and becomes a part of what they are.
We need not to “spit out” new ways of doing and seeing things, because we aren’t comfortable with them. If we work on them patiently, the rough parts get covered with new insights and new experiences until they fit just fine and become a part of who we are.
Have you ever heard people with a few years recovery say they’re sorry they quit using? Never! They’ve found a priceless pearl.