I reject the idea that having bad things happen TO us means that the rest of our life is just day after day of “just getting by.”
When traumatic things happen to us, either in the distant or recent past, it means we face some specific struggles and challenges.
We can’t ignore those struggles and challenges. We can’t pretend they don’t exist— they’ve very often in our face in the form of flashbacks and dissociation and depression and other symptoms.
Living a life after painful things have happened to us means learning specific tools, skills, and strategies to mange our symptoms and integrate overwhelming memories.
Recovery is an involved project. We can’t treat it like a side project.
When we’re trying to build and life a life after bad things have happened to us, it means we have to look at ALL of our life projects— our relationships, our career, our hobbies— through the lens of recovery.
Trauma— and recovery— will touch EVERY aspect of our lives going forward. We don’t get to opt out of that. (I wish we did.)
All that said: I don’t believe our life THEN consists of ONLY recovery.
I believe recovery is the paradigm, the framework, that allows us to do the things we REALLY want to do with our lives.
Once we accept that we have to live our lives within the framework of recovery— that we will never NOT be trauma survivors— that allows us to ask questions about what we want to do WITHIN that framework.
What kind of relationships we want to have. What kind of career we want to have. What kind of goals and dreams we want to create and pursue.
Ironically, accepting that we will never NOT be in recovery is what allows us to focus on things OTHER than recovery without the risk of our symptoms overwhelming us and dominating our lives.
I know it can be really difficult to imagine ever having anything that resembles a life outside of our pain.
I know how frustrating it is when we’re told to not let our pain dominate our life, when we’re used to our symptoms being SO painful and SO pervasive that we can’t IMAGINE pain NOT dominating our life.
But I also know how depressing it is to imagine our futures being nothing BUT pain and symptom management.
Your mileage may vary, and you’re always the expert on your own experience— but I reject the idea that all we can ever hope for is misery management for the rest of our lives.
I think we still have lives to live that go beyond “just getting by.”
I think the entire POINT of developing coping skills and tools is to get back to what ACTUALLY matters in our lives.
I think that developing skills and tools and strategies to mange our symptoms is about MORE than just managing our symptoms.
I think that recovery isn’t a goal. It’s a lifestyle.
Will we have days where all we can do is JUST manage our pain? Sure.
Will we have days when we feel so overwhelmed that we can’t IMAGINE doing much else with our lives OTHER than just get by? Sure.
But effective recovery opens up the door to more.
It opens up the door to you being YOU again— and YOU are MORE than JUST someone to whom bad things happened.
YOU have interests and hopes and dreams.
YOU have goals and values.
YOU have things that you like and love and want.
I want you to create and experience a life that is as close as possible to the life you once imagined.
That’s why I believe in recovery.
I believe in recovery because of all the OTHER stuff it makes possible.