Some nights we’re going to be sad or lonely— and we’re not going to be sure why.
We’re going to want to feel better, or even just differently— and we’re not going to be sure what, if anything, we CAN do to change how we feel.
I wish choosing recovery meant that we’d never have sad or lonely nights. But it doesn’t.
In fact, in some ways recovery means certain nights will seem sadder or lonelier than they used to, because in choosing recovery we’ve committed to not using the self-sabotaging or self-destructive shortcuts to changing our feelings that we used to.
So we’re left with the sadness and the loneliness.
Sometimes we’re left with memories that we’d do anything to NOT be aware of.
Perhaps we’re left with feelings of worthlessness or emptiness that, in the past, we were ether not aware of, or had developed self-harmful distractions to cope with.
On nights like this it’s hard to take a step back and remember why we’re choosing recovery instead of immersion in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, or an eating disorder.
We know we “should” be in recovery. We know we’re “supposed” to fight.
But what do we do when the struggles of our recovery are in our face— and we can’t clearly remember why it’s supposedly preferable to be in recovery at all?
I wish there were magic words I could write here to make it all make sense on a sad, lonely night.
I wish there was an airtight argument I could make here that would instantly get you motivated and hopeful about recovery.
But the truth is: sad, lonely nights are going to happen.
Nights when we feel lost. Unloved. Unworthy OF love.
Even if we know in our head that these feelings are the results of distorted thoughts or beliefs, even if we intellectually know that past trauma is clouding our thinking and judgment, even if we know that addiction or anxiety is whispering in our ear a worst-case-scenario interpretation of everything we’re experiencing…the fact is that nights like this STILL hurt.
Yes, we can learn coping skills. And yes, those skills often take the edge of of some of the sadness or loneliness.
But even the most effective coping skills sometimes feel like trying to combat a forest fire with a squirt gun.
So why be in recovery? Why stay in recovery? Are sad, lonely nights all we ever have to look forward to?
Our quality of life DOES improve as we stay in recovery.
That may not feel realistic on a sad, lonely night— such as you might be experiencing right now— but it’s true.
We DO feel better as we heal.
There’s no denying that it happens tiny bit by tiny bit— and there’s no denying that we have to endure plenty of awful nights where we’re going to wonder if any of this is worth it.
I can’t speak for you. I can only speak for me.
I believe it is worth it.
I believe it’s worth it because I believe you and I are worth it.
I don’t believe we were born to suffer.
I don’t believe we were born to quit— or to lose.
I don’t believe we were born to live at the mercy of depression, anxiety, trauma, addiction, or an eating disorder.
Don’t get me wrong: there are frequently parts of me that doubt or dispute that assertion that “I’m worth it.”
Those parts remind me of me when I was a kid— wondering or doubting whether I was “worth it.”
At the time, I could have used a safe, consistent adult to tell me I WAS, in fact, worth it— and to stay with me even as I doubt it, even as I disputed it.
I could have used an adult to just stick with me, even when I felt I didn’t deserve it.
Many people reading this didn’t have that adult then.
We have to BE that adult for that young, anxious, doubting, despairing part of us now.
I choose recovery because I refuse to abandon myself— either the adult I am now, or the child I once was, who I still carry around with me in my head and heart.
Yes. The night can be dark, and cold, and lonely, and sad, and long. There’s no denying that.
It’s when the night is darkest and coldest that we need ourselves more than ever.