You’re going to have days— and especially nights— when your feelings get away from you.
You’re going to have days— and nights— when you feel like your ENTIRE personality has been short-circuited by triggers and trauma responses.
You’re going to have days— and nights— when you don’t especially recognize yourself…and when you don’t especially like the person you DO see.
No doubt about it: we are not ourselves when we’re triggered.
We are not ourselves when we’re desperate.
We are not ourselves when we’re yanked back in time in an emotional, somatic, or sensory flashback.
When we come out of those reactions, the temptation can be to kind of get swallowed up by embarrassment or shame.
We might look back on who we were or what we did when we were triggered with frustration or sadness.
We don’t want to be THAT person, we might tell ourselves. Who even WAS that last night?
Sometimes our frustration or shame can make it really hard to get back on track with our recovery.
Why even bother, we might say to ourselves, if THIS is what happens when I get freaked out?
I know. I’ve been there. Almost everybody reading these words has been there.
The day after an abreaction, dissociative fugue, or relapse, can be brutal.
It can leave us questioning who we are, or if we can even hack this “recovery” thing.
You need to know that you are NOT the first, last or only person to feel this way.
You also need to know that almost EVERYONE who has EVER made progress in recovery from depression, trauma, addiction, an eating disorder, or any other emotional or behavioral struggle, has felt this way.
Think of the person whose recovery journey you most admire, someone, who you think really has it together.
I GUARANTEE that they, the person you just thought of, have felt like this.
They, the person you just thought of, have asked themselves if they can really succeed at recovery.
One of the most important things I’ve learned about recovery through my own experience is that it doesn’t live or die based on a bad night or even a bad streak.
We who are in recovery tend to do that. We take detours. We get overwhelmed. It happens.
If recovery was a one-and-done decision, and if human beings were capable of simply turning things around with a one-and-done decision, than we probably wouldn’t be vulnerable to depression, trauma, addiction, eating disorders, or other struggles to begin with.
Those who succeed at recovery aren’t the ones who don’t run into problems, complications, or awful days or nights.
They’re the ones who can pick up the pieces the next day— even though they’re embarrassed, frustrated, or discouraged.
Right here, right now, I can tell you: I am GOING to have a bad day or night. Maybe not today, maybe not tonight, and probably not as frequently as I used to— but it’s going to happen. I’m GOING to be tempted to throw my recovery in the trash and do things that are harmful or counterproductive to the life I’m trying to create.
I can also tell you: even when that happens, it will NOT be where my story ends.
That’s the decision I’ve made.
I DON’T have control over whether I have a bad night (though, as we get better and better at the recovery tools and skills, we DO tend to have more and more INFLUENCE over how often those nights occur and how bad they get).
I DO have control over whether a bad night burns my recovery— including my relationships with the people I love— to the ground.
I’ve decided that whatever happened last night, or whatever happens tomorrow night— I will pick up the pieces.
As many pieces, and as many times, as I have to.
Come at me.