Our old skills helped us survive. But recovery is about more than survival.

I haven’t always coped as well as I thought I “should.”

I haven’t even coped as well as I THOUGHT I coped. 

When you survive a rough childhood, you tend to get a lot of pats on the back for your “resilience.” So much so that many trauma survivors I know are sick to DEATH of being told how “resilient” they are. 

But there’s also this temptation t think that surviving a traumatic early life (or surviving ANY traumatic time of your life) means that you’ve successfully coped— and that’s true, in a way. 

Yes, the things we did to survive DID help us survive. 

The fact that you’re reading this and I’m writing this means we BOTH survived. 

But a lot of us are now faced with the work of undoing not only the damage done by whatever we went through— but how we “coped.” 

Our coping “skills” deserve all the credit tin the universe for keeping us alive— but we need to be realistic about the toll some of them took on us.

Some people “coped” with overwhelming situations by completely shutting down their emotional lives. And that “skill” did help them survive. 

Some people “coped” by completely isolating themselves socially, completely rejecting any attempts to connect— and that “skill” may have helped them survive, too. 

Some people “coped” with the support of substances that soothed and numbed them— and, make no mistake, substance use under certain circumstances can absolutely help someone survive, depending on the alternatives. 

I don’t think anybody reading this needs to apologize for doing what they needed to do to survive once upon a time. 

But we need to be real about the costs. 

The coping “skills” that got us by once upon a time may not be the skills we need to build a life in the here and now. 

We may think we have all the coping skills we need, because we survived something horrific. 

But it’s not that simple. 

The skills that got us through what we went through deserve our gratitude.

But we don’t need to hang on to them just for the sake of hanging on to them. 

We don’t want to have survived the past just to ruin our lives in the present by doubling down on old coping tools that don’t serve us anymore. 

I didn’t survive abuse and neglect in the past, only to have my future destroyed by addiction. 

Developing and using coping skills is the least interesting, most frustrating part of recovery. I remember visibly recoiling when a therapist uttered the word “cope” to me for the first time. 

But it turns out coping skills aren’t optional if our goal is to meaningfully heal. 

I thought I was too smart and too tough to need coping skills. I thought the fact that I had survived what I’d survived was proof enough I knew how to “cope.” 

My addictive patterns— which blossomed into problems related to, but quite separate from, the pain of my past— proved how full of sh*t I was on that one. 

Yes, how I handled feelings and stress allowed me to survive my past. But I had to re-learn lots of skills so that I didn’t sacrifice my present and my future. 

44 year old me needs different tools and skills than 22 year old me did. 

I know, I know. Just the phrase “coping skills” is irritating. And recovery is ABSOLUTELY about more than just learning how to “cope.” 

But the basics are the basics for a reason. 

Once upon a time I thought I could skip the basics. 

But that’s just not how meaningful, reliable recovery— recovery you can trust, recovery that creates a base to build a new life— is built. 

Your life is 100% yours. Not theirs.

You get to choose who you are. 

You get to choose what you value. 

You get to choose what gives your life meaning. 

Don’t get me wrong: a LOT of people will try, successfully or not, to SHAPE who you are. 

Certain events WILL shape your belief system about yourself. 

We may have been blank slates once upon a time, but we’re not anymore. Everyone reading this has been shaped— and scarred, many of us— by past experience. 

We STILL get to decide who we are. 

We get to decide what to base our personality on. 

We get to decide who to model. 

No one gets to tell us “you don’t like X; you actually like Y.” 

No one gets to tell us what makes us laugh— or cry. 

No one gets to tell us what kind of career will make us happy or not. 

No one gets to tell us whether parenthood is or isn’t right for us. 

All that is up to us. Up to you. 

Why is it important to affirm all of this? Isn’t all this self-evident? 

Unfortunately, a lot of us need to be reminded of this. 

We live in a world in which MANY of us feel constantly judged. 

We live in a world in which MANY of us are VERY afraid of rejection and abandonment. 

There are lots of reasons why some of us become so sensitive to possibly being rejected and abandoned, but the fact is that it takes a toll. Many of us are walking around both exhausted— and feeling like we’re tiptoeing on eggshells. 

Some of us have spent so long worried sick about the expectations and reactions of others, that we can’t really remember WHO we are. 

If that’s you, it’s okay. You’re not alone— and you’re not weird or broken. 

Maybe you don’t remember who you are. 

Maybe it’s time to start from scratch. 

You get to decide if, when, and why to reinvent yourself. 

Make no mistake: people reinvent their entire lives ALL THE TIME. 

It’s amazing to learn how many people, within the span of one lifetime, actually live what feels like MULTIPLE lifetimes. 

People who are CONVINCED they’ve found their ONE career or calling wind up in TOTALLY DIFFERENT circumstances in ten years. 

People who are CONVINCED they’ve found their ONE SOULMATE wind up with someone they didn’t even KNOW at the time in ten years. 

It’s not always easy to reinvent or overhaul our lives. There are often situational factors and forces working against us. Most of us can’t just abandon the identity we’ve established, and pick up a brand new one. 

(Ask anyone who identifies as transgender, especially later in life.)

But we have a lot more flexibility with who we are and what our life is all about than we might think. 

Remember that your life is yours. 

Its boundaries, its goals, its meaning: that’s ALL up to you. 

Don’t let ANYONE try to steal YOUR right to define and be YOU. 

We gotta focus on today. This day. Right here.

We can’t approach our recovery from depression, anxiety, trauma, addiction, or eating disorders from an all-or-nothing perspective. 

Recovery doesn’t work that way, because nothing in LIFE works that way.

We gotta be flexible. We need to be prepared to improvise. 

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably had the experience of trying YOUR VERY BEST to do the stuff you need to do to stay stable and make progress— but the day and unexpected stressors and your symptoms and your physical pain gang up on you to kick your ass. 

Our emotional and behavioral struggles have a way of doing that— coming out of nowhere, when we least expect them, to wallop us. 

What that DOESN’T mean is that you’re doing recovery wrong. 

It DOESN’T mean that you’re back at Square One— though it might FEEL that way. 

All it means is what it means— you had a hard day. Maybe you lost some ground. 

We can’t think in black and white terms about it. 

A hard day isn’t a total defeat. The truth is, even on hard days, we usually have little victories. 

A good day isn’t a total victory, for that matter. We can have good days that have hard moments or rough patches. 

Something unexpected that I learned along the way was that I NEEDED to approach my own recovery with a LOT of flexibility. I had to roll with bad days. Improvisation— and even humor, sometimes in my darkest moments— saved my skin more than once. 

Maybe you’re not doing great today. That doesn’t mean the game’s over. 

Maybe you’ve made some boneheaded decisions today. I am the KING of boneheaded decisions— and it’s usually not the end of the world. 

Sometimes our recovery journey’s going to be dramatic. Sometimes it’s going to be boring, and involve a lot of skills and tools that aren’t particularly profound or sexy. 

You’re GONNA have days when recovery feels COMPLETELY manageable— and you’re GONNA have days when it feels COMPLETELY beyond you. 

Easy does it. That’s normal. 

The fact that you’re here, reading this, represents a victory. You’ve made it this far. You’re still in the game. 

That’s not nothing. 

When you find something that works, awesome: put it in your coping toolbox. 

Just remember that nothing’s a magic bullet. 

You WILL have days when the skills and tools that got you this far, won’t seem to work AT ALL. 

That’s normal, too. 

Different days bring different triggers, stressors, and challenges. They require different skills and tools to navigate. 

You just focus on managing today. 

We don’t know how the rest of your recovery and the rest of your life are going to go. Your symptoms could disappear tomorrow; or they could get a hundred times worse tomorrow. 

We just don’t know. We can’t tell the future. 

What we do know is what’s on our plate today. 

That’s what we need to manage today. 

That’s what we need to adapt to, today. 

Tomorrow will be here soon enough. 

Don’t get up in your head; don’t think in all or nothing terms; don’t try to live the next ten years or relive the last ten years all at once. 

Just focus on today, today. 

I believe in you. 

Depression and trauma are convincing, persistent, imaginative liars.

One of the most insidious lies that depression and trauma tell us is that we are fundamentally DIFFERENT from the rest of humanity— in a bad way. 

That we are dirty. Inconvenient. Annoying. Unworthy. Incompetent. 

We may “know” that our depression or trauma are lying to us— but we may believe them anyway, because what they’re saying FEELS so true. 

We humans have a hard time reality testing things that FEEL true. 

It’s a habit cognitive therapists call “emotional reasoning”— when we assume something MUST be true because it FEELS so real. 

We may have people in our lives telling us, straightforwardly, that they like us, that they want us, that we’re worthy and competent and desirable. 

And still our depression or trauma will whisper, “Yeah, but…what if I’m actually terrible?” 

Then, sometimes our depression or trauma will double back and accuse us of being ESPECIALLY terrible— because we’ve SOMEHOW convinced the people in our lives that we’re NOT terrible. 

How TERRIBLE must we be, to have LIED and DECEIVED so many people, so convincingly? 

Again: we may “know” none of this is true. 

But our depression or trauma is really good at whispering in our ear, “But what if it is true?” 

“What if they secretly hate you?” 

“What if they’re just too polite to tell you?” 

“What if no one will ever tell you the TRUTH about how TERRIBLE you are?” 

That’s how depression and trauma operate. 

Depression and trauma are masterful at just dropping these poison seeds into our minds, that blossom not in sunlight in the dark of our self-doubt. 

Part of recovery is recognizing when we’re being fed lies by our depression and trauma— and challenging those lies in our head. 

This does not come easy. We DON’T like to challenge what our nervous system says is real. 

It’s MUCH easier to just roll with “Huh, this feels about right”…even if the thing that “feels about right” is a poisonous lie about your worth, likability, or competence. 

The lies spun by our depression and trauma will masquerade as “intuition” and “gut feeling.” They’re REALLY good at pretending to be something that we instinctively “know” and we should just “accept.” 

Part of recovery is learning to recognize the poison seeds planted by depression and trauma— and distinguishing those lies from who we really are and what we really deserve. 

We are not always awesome. Life is not always awesome. 

But depression and trauma will try to convince you that the fact that we, and life, sometimes suck, is not only your fault— but it is evidence that things will never get better. 

Don’t buy their narrative. 

Their narrative is not about truth. 

It is about you feeling a certain kind of way. 

Depression, anxiety, addictions, eating disorders— they do not care about truth. But they will SAY they do. 

They’ll try to convince you they are being more “honest” with you than those people in your life who are telling you they like and love and want you. 

But they are not honest. 

We know this because— if you notice— they change their tactics to hit you at your most vulnerable spot in any given situation. 

They don’t care about what’s real. 

They care about you feeling the way they want you to feel, and doing the things they want you to do. 

Remember that you are in charge of your worldview and your behavior choices. 

Depression, trauma, addiction, eating disorder— they don’t get a vote. 

No matter HOW much they really, really want one. 

Their names were Kirby Brown, Liz Newman, James Shore, and Colleen Conaway.

On this day in 2009, Kirby Brown died while participating in a personal growth retreat in Sedona, Arizona.

The man who led that retreat was a New York Times bestselling self help author named James Arthur Ray.

He had charged each of the participants almost $10,000 for this retreat— a price he justified by claiming he had been educated and trained in the subjects he was teaching and the experiences he was offering.

As it turns out, he was lying about his qualifications and experience.

But the fact that he had a bestselling book and had been featured on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” convinced many people to pay him for these teachings and experiences…that he was objectively unqualified to offer.

The truth was that this man did not have any educational or professional credentials that would qualify him to teach people about behavioral science, emotional health, or spiritual growth— nor had he been trained to conduct the sweat lodge ceremony that ended in three deaths (and over a dozen serious injuries) twelve years ago today.

This was not the first time a participant had died at one of this man’s personal growth events.

Several months prior to this event, a participant in another of his workshops had committed suicide AT THE EVENT— which was at least partially a result of this man’s failure to properly screen his event participants for psychiatric stability before throwing them into emotionally intense exercises.

A total of four people have died at this man’s events.

Following the first death– the mid-event suicide– this man choose not to acknowledge it to the other participants, who were unaware of what had happened.

He claimed the victim had simply decided to leave the event— then he continued with the workshop, likely so he wouldn’t have to stop the event, provide refunds, or furnish support or explanations to the other participants.

Following the multiple deaths and injuries at his Sedona event, this man didn’t stick around to debrief or even check in with the other participants, who had literally seen two of the victims die in front of them.

He literally fled the scene, later explaining that this was what his attorney had advised him to do.

This man was convicted of negligent homicide for the deaths that occurred twelve years ago today.

He served less than two years total in prison.

As soon as he was released from prison, this man started planning his return to the self help/personal growth industry.

This man, who has a well established track record of lying about his qualifications and running unsafe events, is back to offering self help events for thousands of dollars a seat.

This man published a book in 2018…focused on on HIS journey “back” from the tragedy he says befell HIM twelve years ago today.

Because that’s what he thinks happened.

He thinks HE was the victim.

He thinks these last twelve years have been a period of struggle for HIM.

He thinks the loss of his business and the brief loss of his freedom— both of which were precipitated by his negligence and dishonesty about his qualifications and abilities— were tragic enough to make his current “comeback” effort a heroic “redemption” story.

If you mention these things to him on social media, this man will berate you for “living in the past.”

He will point to the difficulties HE has endured over the last ten years as evidence of his own grit and character.

He likes to call himself (I swear I’m not making this up) “The Dark Knight” of personal growth.

This man is actually trying to use his involvement in the deaths twelve years ago as part of his rebranding.

Understand: this man STILL does not have the educational or professional credentials to be dispensing advice on behavior change or emotional health.

This man STILL does not have a track record of sustained business success, even though he markets himself as a renowned business coach.

And this man, who is currently trying to rebrand himself as an expert on leadership, is the same man who deceived and abandoned his clients in Sedona…clients who had paid thousands of dollars for his “expertise.”

That’s the kind of “leader” this man is.

The family of Kirby Brown is using today to focus on her legacy of passionate living, seeking, and striving.

I hope someday somebody says the nice things about me that I’ve heard said over and over again about Kirby.

I also hope that the man whose arrogance and carelessness caused her death finds himself robustly unable to lie his way back to a profitable living in the self help industry.

We may not always understand our triggers–but we STILL need to manage ’em.

It can be frustrating when we don’t know where our triggers, reactions, or symptoms come from. 

Sometimes we can take some educated guesses at why we react to certain things the way we do— but sometimes our feelings and reactions are very much a mystery to us. 

Over time, we often come to understand our feelings and reactions as we work through things in therapy and recovery— but some triggers and emotional or behavioral reflexes STILL baffle us. 

The truth is, sometimes we’re just not going to know. 

We may not ever truly discover WHY we’re triggered by a particular smell, a particular time of day, a specific tone of voice. 

We may not really underhand WHY we react SO strongly to certain relationship dynamics. 

We may not ever get that answer we so desperately want for WHY we feel what we feel and do what we do. 

The thing is, even if we DON’T ever get that answer— we STILL have to MANAGE those feelings and behaviors. 

We have to accept that our feelings and reactions are EXACTLY what they are. 

They’re exactly as intense as they are— and they’re exactly as mysterious as they are. 

It can be a real drag to not understand WHY we feel and do what we do. 

Part of the problem is, we might truly think that if we just UNDERSTOOD ourselves a little better, we’d be able to control and manage our emotions and behaviors more effectively. 

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. 

My relationships with adult men tend to be particularly fraught. I think I have a reasonably good undemanding of why— the reasons, I think, have a lot to do with how I related to my father and my male peers growing up. 

That is to say, I think I understand my issue with men fairly well. 

That doesn’t seem to make it much, if any, easier to actually DEAL with adult men when I need to. I still get fairly easily triggered when I have to interact with adult men, and have to use my coping skills and tools to stay present and manage the situation right then, right there. 

In my mind, what makes the difference in this dilemma is self-compassion. 

I may not understand why my triggers are as they are. But I can have compassion for myself, that my triggers present the pain and complications into my life that they do. 

When someone we love is suffering, we don’t demand that they explain their situation in a way that makes sense to US, before we offer them support. 

When we love someone, we offer them emotional safety and support— even if we, or they, don’t quite understand why a trigger has affected them so. 

We are always works in progress. Our recovery is always a work in progress. 

Some days you’ll understand your triggers and reactions more than others. 

Some days you’ll be a complete mystery to yourself. 

Either way, we need to know that we are there for ourselves. We need to know that we don’t reject our need for support and care just because we don’t quite understand what’s going on. 

It’s hard to NOT judge or reject ourselves when we grew up being judged and rejected. 

Judgment and rejection may feel familiar— which our nervous system sometimes confuses with “right.” 

Accept you’re feeling what you’re feeling. 

Accept you need what you need. 

Assume that your reactions make sense on SOME level, even if you don’t understand it right now. 

And proceed with self-compassion, self-respect, and self-love. 

Maybe…DON’T look at that social media account or personality that triggers you.

Do you ever get SUPER tempted to perseverate on social media content that just makes you feel AWFUL? I do. 

You’re not weird. LOTS of us do that. 

We’re drawn to accounts we can’t stand. We click on posts that raise our blood pressure. 

Everybody reading this has probably done that at least once. Okay, maybe twice. All right, possibly a few times. 

We KNOW we should just let go, move on, drop it…but for some reason we find ourselves returning to that social media content that drives us bonkers, again and again. 

It’s important to realize that at least some of that social media content that we find so painfully addicting is actually DESIGNED to draw us in like that. 

There are people, right now, writing posts that are purposefully crafted to get you to hate click on them. 

For as enthusiastic as we humans tend to be about things we like and agree with, it’s well known hat we can be even more passionate about engaging with things we DISlike and DISagree with. 

The thing is: if we’re really interested in living meaningful lives— not to mention, if we’re in the process of recovering from depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, an eating disorder, or another emotional or behavioral struggle— it’s REALLY important we learn to disentangle ourselves from social media content we hate. 

We just don’t need the burden. The triggers. The stress. 

Managing our recovery is very often about managing our stress and our triggers. 

We can’t control the fact that we’re GOING to experience stress and be exposed to triggers— but we can learn to get a handle on at least SOME of the stressors and triggers that enter our awareness. 

When we become aware of something on social media that ONLY enrages us, it’s time to set a boundary with it. 

If it ONLY distracts us, if it ONLY drags us down, if it ONLY turns us into a version of ourselves we don’t like, there’s no upside to even toying with it. 

Some social media content, we need to treat like an addict treats their substance of addiction. 

We have to go cold turkey. 

We have to use the block button, and mean it. 

We have to have a PLAN for how to deal with ourselves when we WANT to sneak around our own block to look at the content that’s harming us.

That is to say: a relapse prevention plan. 

We might think that we “shouldn’t” have to take such drastic measures to keep ourselves from looking at certain social media content— after all, it’s only Twitter, right? It’s only Facebook, it’s only Instagram, what’s the big deal? 

The big deal is, when we’re trying to manage our feelings and behavior, what we look at, what we let in, what we engage with, matters. It matters big time. 

Ask anybody who is seriously recovering from an eating disorder: Instagram is not a take-it-or-leave-it thing. 

Ask anybody who is struggling with suicidal ideation: certain rabbit holes on Twitter can be literally life threatening. 

Ask anybody who is trying to stay grounded in a flashback: the personalities and words we take in on ANY social media site can keep us present or send us spiraling. 

Take your social media consumption seriously— ESPECIALLY if you’re in recovery. 

Pay attention to how looking at certain accounts and pages impacts how you feel and what you do. 

And be willing, if necessary, to COMPLETELY cut out certain social media presences— and, if you need to, seek support and accountability in cutting them out. 

Life’s too short to let social media put your recovery at risk. 

What motivates you, motivates you. Don’t deny it; use it.

There is, or could be, something that motivates you. 

You might not have found it yet. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. 

There are lots of people who feel hopeless about EVER being motivated, because they’re not motivated by what the world says they “should” be motivated by. 

If you’re not motivated by what the world says you “should” be motivated by, it doesn’t mean you’re hopeless. 

It means exactly one thing: you’re not motivated by what the world says you “should” be motivated by. 

That’s it. 

There’s no rule that says what works for ANYBODY else, needs to work for you— and there’s no rule that says what works for you, needs to be even UNDERSTANDABLE to anybody else. 

I remember being a kid, and realizing I was different. 

Realizing the I thought about different stuff than the other kids. 

Realizing that I WANTED different stuff than the other kids. 

Realizing that what THEY wanted, what THEY considered important, would never be what I wanted or considered important. 

At first, it was a lonely feeling. I felt weird, isolated, defective. 

Now, I understand that different means exactly one thing: different. 

So what gets you up in the morning may not be what gets anyone else up. 

What keeps you in the game may not be what keeps any one else hanging in there. 

So what? 

What motivates you, motivates you. 

What turns you on, turns you on. 

What keeps you focused and interested and invested, is what keeps YOU focused and interested and invested. 

No need for shame. You’re not hurting anybody else by being different— and as long as you’re not hurting anybody else, there’s NOTHING wrong with BEING different. 

Instead of hiding it, denying it, disowning it, fighting it— use it. 

Use what motivates you, to motivate you. 

Use what turns you on. Use what makes you interested and invested. 

Become who YOU want to become. Who YOU really feel like. Become the person who feels right for YOU. 

Life is too short to spend at war with ourselves. 

Life is too short to spend wishing we were motivated by and inserted in the same stuff “they” are. 

We don’t have the right to hurt anyone else— but short of hurting anyone else, we DO have the right to be who we are. 

Yes, it might be complicated, given your social or family situation. I’ll never tell you being radically yourself ISN’T complicated. 

But being radically ourselves is often the only way out of the prison of others’ expectations. 

Don’t lock yourself in to anyone else’s vision of who and what you SHOULD be. 

For all we know, we only get one shot at life. 

It’s never too late to be who you really are. 

It’s never too late to embrace what you really want. 

I’d say you have permission— but you don’t NEED permission. 

Trauma recovery is about rediscovering– or maybe just discovering– who we are.

Trauma makes it difficult to define who we are and be who we are. 

Healing from trauma is about rediscovering and redefining ourselves— on our own terms. 

When we grow up in the midst of abuse, neglect, or chaos, our resources are often completely consumed by trying to survive. 

It’s hard to develop as a human being when you’re busy trying to anticipate when an abuser will hit you. 

It’s hard to figure out who you really are when your entire day is consumed by anxiety about what will happen when you get home. 

It’s hard to become a well rounded human being when you’re busy trying to figure out who you need to be to minimize the chances that you’ll be hurt. 

In that kind of stressful environment, we don’t become “ourselves”— we become whoever we need to be to survive. 

This is something a lot of people misunderstand about people who grow up in stressful environments. 

When they tell us to “just be ourselves,” two things often occur to us: one, we don’t know who that is. 

Two, “just be yourself” kind of feels like a trap. 

People who grew up in stressful environments don’t have the option of NOT having been affected. It’s not a “choice” anyone is making. 

We don’t just “choose” to be unaffected by what we grew up with. 

People who grew up with trauma or chaos often feel like we’re constantly wearing a mask. 

Often we’re afraid if we take OFF that mask, we’ll be hurt, or rejected, or in trouble. 

Sometimes we don’t even know HOW to take off that mask, even if we WANT to. 

It can be enormously frustrating and lonely to go through life feeling like we’re isolated not only from our fellow human beings— but from ourselves. 

Trauma often has the impact of making us feel like a stranger to ourselves. 

We WANT to find comfort and familiarity— but even when we DO find it, it can feel insecure. 

We’re always kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop. 

Healing is about slowly allowing ourselves to discover and be who we are— even as part of us is overwhelmingly anxious about it. 

The part of us that is worried we’ll be hurt or scorned by being ourselves needs us to acknowledge and comfort it. 

Sometimes we have to start this process with really simple questions. 

What do I like? 

What do I want? 

What do I feel? 

These all may SEEM like simple, obvious questions— but when you grew up under enormous stress these questions may seem absolutely loaded. 

It’s okay. Give yourself time. You’re GOING to feel anxiety— and we need to be there for those anxious parts of ourselves. 

Just let those questions simmer. 

Who are you? 

Maybe you don’t know just yet. And maybe that’s okay. 

As you build a life that DOESN’T revolve around fear and chaos, you’ll begin to have bandwidth to discover and create who you are. 

It’ll take a minute. Give it time. Be patient with you. 

You’re worth the wait. 

Our new life WILL cost us our old one.

When we get into recovery from trauma, or depression, or addiction, or from an eating disorder, we start to come to terms with how much we’ve missed. 

Struggling with trauma, depression, addiction, or an eating disorder takes an ENORMOUS amount of energy. 

Many survivors don’t even realize how emotionally AND physically exhausted they’ve become. 

And when we’ve spent YEARS trying to live through those struggles, we miss stuff. 

We miss opportunities to develop who we are. We miss opportunities to BE who we are. 

Emotional and behavioral struggles rob us of the opportunity to really be ourselves, sometimes for years. 

By the time we finally decide to get into recovery, some of us don’t even know who we are anymore. 

Who is this person whose life I’m trying to save by getting into recovery, anyway? 

Why do I care about them? 

Many people reading this have had virtually their entire lives defined by emotional or behavioral pain. 

We literally don’t know what it’s like to be without it. 

I realized as an adult that, while I knew what it was like to feel good, I probably didn’t know what it was like to be NOT depressed in the big picture. 

I wondered, what would “non-depression” even feel like? 

To me, it would feel like non-existence. I had gotten so used to being depressed, that to imagine a world in which I wasn’t depressed was to imagine a world in which I didn’t EXIST. 

We get attached to and identified with our struggles after awhile. 

Then, when we get to a point where we know we have to make changes, we feel overwhelmed— because to consistently feel a different way would basically mean to become an entirely different person. 

How on earth are we expected to do that? Reinvent ourselves? Now? As an adult? 

Many people decide there’s just too much water under the dam to do that. 

But there’s not. 

The truth is, we CAN create a life far less entwined with the pain and the struggles we’ve gotten so used to. That IS possible. It happens. It’s real. 

But it’s going to be scary in some ways.

The process is going to be intimidating sometimes. 

There will ABSOLUTELY be times when we question whether it’s worth it, or even possible, to create a life worth living out of what’s come before. 

Consistently feeling good requires a lot of work for some of us, particularly if we were born with certain vulnerabilities, or raised in certain environments, or if we had certain things happen to us. 

Doing that work is worth it, because we DESERVE to feel good. 

But it’s intimidating. 

Let it be intimidating. 

Let yourself be scared. 

Let yourself be trepidatious. 

Let yourself feel the things you feel when you’re looking at this project. 

And then— take the next step. 

Do the next right thing. 

And then the next one. And the next one.