Contributor: Richard Anderson, author “From Darkness to Light: A Primer for Recovery”
I have learned that when negative things happen to me it is just life on life’s terms.
It isn’t punishment or karma, or anything of the like. If you have read some of my other writings you have some idea of the things I am talking about. I have endured enormous pain and grief in the course of my recovery. I have experienced tragedy.
I have suffered with the feelings associated with those events. I have cried, sobbed, and felt tremendous pain at various times. Yet I still know that He is there and loves me just as much as He ever did.
Many times, in the throes of spiritual and emotional agony, I have felt His reassuring presence, His hand upon my shoulder reassuring me that He is there and that we will walk through this together. He has provided for me needs in some of the most incredible ways during those periods of anguish and pain.
Hope Prepared the Way
Hope has gotten me through the rough parts and all of the other normal, messy feelings that are mine as a part of my humanity. Hope that I can get better, hope that I can be changed from the man I was to the man I wish to be. As I have seen growth in myself, hope prepared the way for my belief to flourish and for my trust in Him to grow exponentially.
I realize that if God is behind me it really doesn’t matter what is in front of me. As I take action I am exemplifying my faith in my Higher Power. Faith is a verb. Faith implies action. Faith is the spiritual principle behind step three. We cannot have real faith unless we build it.
Faith Is the Antidote for Fear
The opposite of faith is fear. Faith is the antidote for fear. Fear is at the core of our disease. Fear of not being good enough, fear of not being worthy, fear of being ridiculed, taken advantage of, of not being in control, etc.
Fear ran our lives when we were using. I see fear running the lives of so many people, even those who are apparently not addicts. I feel badly for them that they don’t have the tools available to them that we do. We will always have some measure of fear in our lives, and rightly so, but we don’t have to allow fear to control us or own us.
We All Have Times of Struggle
Since I am fully human I have times when fear grips me. Like everyone else I have experienced times when I have felt overwhelmed. My ego does not need the pretense of being perfect and having it all together all the time. Such behaviors have their very basis in fear, fear of not looking perfect.
I’m human, not perfect. I too have times of struggle. If I pretend otherwise I do others a great disservice by convincing them that they are somehow “less-than” if they struggle with fear. I strive to live a message of recovery that is real, employing real tools that have been made available to me in a very real way.
When Fear Grips
During such times as I have felt fear grip me with its paralyzing coldness, I have worked the principles in reverse. If my faith is lacking, if I am afraid to act I step back to my trust. What was my trust built upon? Have I been able to find His fingerprints in my life, caring for me in ways I never expected?
Sure I have. Do I believe He has had enough of helping me? No. Likewise I never tire of being there for my children. I give them what they need, but not always what they want. I give of myself to them and tirelessly take care of them because I love them. In the same manner my God is there for me infinitely more, with infinitely more love than my human heart can ever comprehend.
What Were the Signs?
If my trust is weak I can always back up to my belief. What do I believe and why? Where is the evidence that there is a Higher Power looking out for me? Am I not clean today? Have I not been clean for some time? Is that something I could do for myself?
No, I couldn’t do it myself however hard I have tried. I needed help, asked for it and then received help. I was relieved of the obsession to use. How? How is it that I have been able to change and grow? What were the signs I saw that showed me that He was there and looking out for me? How many “coincidences” have I experienced during the course of my recovery?
Hope Is Always There
If my belief is failing for some reason, I can back up to hope. Is it possible for me to get better, to get through something difficult and come out the other side whole? Sure it is, I have done so many times and seen others do likewise.
Hope says “I can get better, I can get through this and things will get better”. I have been all the way back to hope more than a few times. From there I can begin building forward again through belief, trust and finally taking action. Sometimes that action is just to keep putting one foot in front of the other, doing the next right thing, and staying clean.
A Loss In Hope Can Lead to Relapse
If hope is weak, I am probably in relapse mode. I need to fall hard onto the principle of honesty. I need to remember what obsession and compulsion have wrought in my life.
I need to remember the enormous spiritual, emotional, mental and physical consequences that rain down upon me if I am tempted to take that first hit, pill, drink or whatever to “recapture the ease and comfort I once knew”. Using for me is always an option as I still have free will, but it is never a solution. Only enormous pain, isolation, degradation, and hopelessness lie behind that door.
That is why so often when people go out and relapse after a period of freedom from active addiction they are soon dead by their own hand. To experience freedom and hope and then have that same freedom and hope shattered by a relapse is sometimes more than many can endure. Recall that hopelessness is the anti-principle of step one. This disease is not to be taken lightly. It is commonly fatal.
Find Real Hope
Hope has to be real. Hope is a fundamental tool of recovery. The tools that I use in the course of my recovery have to be based on real evidence in order for me to build real belief and trust. Honesty, hope, belief and trust allow me to act in faith.
The tools and principles that I rely on have to be as a real as a hammer or pen. They simply must be, because when the rubber meets the road they have to work. My life depends upon it.
For more information on this and other vital topics about recovery please visit my website: www.recoveryresourcesinc.com and look for the recovery primer “From Darkness to Light: A Primer for Recovery”.
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The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addiction. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 31st, 2015
Published on AddictionHope.com