“you never lose until you actually give up.” -Mike Tyson
There is a lot of talk around Recovery around and ‘not getting in the ring with it’. We don’t have to be an active participant with a person, or a situation, whether it be a drama, or a substance, when we have the freedom to bypass it. In Recovery it has been often said that we need to gain insight, understanding and ultimately awareness of when this maybe the case. This can then allow us to equip ourselves with the skills that we need to either engage with the fight, or if needs be to disengage.
How can we do this if we are unaware of what is happening? Or, even more so, if we are unsure of how much we are investing and are involved in that drama. Awareness comes from observing thoughts, feelings, behaviours and actions and then making changes. Insight is gained from this observation
If I were an observer, a fan in the crowd, would I see myself climbing up through the ropes to get into a contest against another person, or thing? If I am honest, I could see that, but I would also be aware that I am coming up against a competent opponent.
If I could be that detached observer of my action, what could I see?
I could see myself in the other person’s corner. I could be the trainer, the motivator, a source of energy and power to the opponent that I was going to fight. For without that initial source, would I even have a foe to fight? At times, that person I am going to get in the ring with is not my foe, but a friend, someone I cannot do without. It would be a fight that cannot exist without fear. Fear can at times be the incentive to push forward with caution.
With substances, once we become aware that because of our substance use, we have changed and redirected our moral compass, we give ourselves a reality check. We have to own that we have allowed some external force to determine who we are and how we live. We gain a false self by identifying with something outside of us. That external valuation of ourselves is false, but as we are attached to it, it allows us to be defined by our actions. In relative terms this interprets as ‘I am an addict – I am an alcoholic’.
Is this in fact true? I may be going through days where it may feel I am nothing more than my substance use but is it not more a fact of ‘this is my substance use’ and this is how it impacts my life, at this time. When we define ourselves as one thing or another it can seem permanent, entrenched and hopeless.
If we can detach from being defined by something, we can then see it for what it is – in all its colours and truth. Substance misuse, as in recovery, is a stage, a phase, or places where we react and respond to certain situations. But with effort and commitment these can all change.
Our attitudes can be the difference, our actions will be the force which drives the change and observation of our thoughts and behaviour’s. It can allow us the insight and awareness into our ‘shadow selves’.
We sometimes need a lamp to be shone on us to show what is truly there – under light and observation we can see the truth, and what we thought was permanent can get exposed as a deception.
This opens the door to change. The trick is to get out of the way of the light so it can shine, and then allow us to shine along with it.
With it, I am me, without it I am not me- how do I exist without that friend, how do I live without having to get in the ring and engage in that fight.
These are profound questions you have to ask yourself before and after you get into that ring.
CDARS Drug and Alcohol Service