There are absolutely lots of things about recovery that are not “fair.” 

It’s not fair that some people need to devote significant time and energy in their lives to simply functioning day to day, while other people do not. 

It’s not fair that some people have awful, inhumane things happen to them. 

It’s not fair that some people are abused and neglected by people who are supposed to love and care for them. 

It’s not fair that some people have biological dispositions toward addictions or compulsions. 

It’s not fair that some people are wired for depression or anxiety. 

It’s not fair that bad people are often not called to account for the destructive things they’ve done. 

There are lots and lots and lots of things that are not fair. I completely get it. I wish things were different— that life was fairer. 

I wish the people I’ve worked with as a therapist, and the people who read and follow my work on the Internet, didn’t struggle with what they struggle with. I’ve watched some of the coolest, nicest, best people I know labor under burdens that were categorically unfair. 

Nobody deserves to struggle the way some of us struggle. 

Absolutely nobody deserves to have been abused or neglected— let alone to have to carry those burdens forward in the form of PTSD and its associated challenges. 

The thing is: the fact that life is not fair, and because we shouldn’t have to struggle with the things we struggle with…does not mean that we have the option of opting out of the work associated with recovery. 

That is to say: I agree with you. You shouldn’t have this burden to bear. You shouldn’t have to do this work. 

But you do. 

We have the life we have. We have the biology we have, we have the history we have, we have the genes we have. 

We have the burdens we have, right here, right now. It’s not fair— but it is reality. 

We have to deal with life on life’s terms— not on terms that we prefer or define. 

If we get wrapped around the axle about what’s “fair” or not…we are going to lose time and ground that we cannot afford to lose. 

You can feel whatever way you want to feel about the unfairness of life, and the unfairness of your situation specifically. You can be angry about it, you can be sad about it, you can be numb to it. 

But do not let what is “fair” or “not fair” get in your head about how hard you’re willing to work in recovery. 

When we define what we are and aren’t willing to do or explore in our recovery, we need to focus on results, not on what is “fair.” 

None of this is fair. Addiction, depression, PTSD, ADHD. It all sucks. 

But we can’t let that define how we respond to our challenges. 

We have the challenges we have. 

We’re dealt the hand we are dealt. We cannot control that. It’s not fair, but it is reality. 

It’s up to us how to play that hand. 

We need to be emphatic and purposeful in how we do that— and not get derailed or preoccupied by our belief that what’s being asked of us is not “fair.” 


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