I hate to say it, but…

You need to earn your recovery.

I often catch myself saying to recovering LAs: “grow up!” Recovery is very much about growing up and thinking with your head and not your heart. It’s about making conscious, adult decisions about your life based on consequences. But I realize how hostile that may sound. So, here’s what I am really trying to say about getting and feeling better:

You must earn your recovery. You must earn your way away from your PoA and begin the hard work of self love and character building. Children are given things, they don’t earn anything. They are given food, clothing, shelter and hopefully love to sustain them and keep them safe. Adults on the other hand, must earn every bit of their life. They must work to put a roof over their head. They must work to put food on the table. They must work for love. Nothing is given freely. Nothing is a “right” so much as it is an earned privilege.

I don’t know about everyone on this site, but when I took an honest inventory of my life and how I came to be a Love Addict, I realize that a large part of my problem was self-inflicted. I was not willing (or emotionally able, perhaps) to put in any hard work to achieve my goals (if I even had goals!). Like a child, I took what I was given because I didn’t think I deserved anything better. More than that, I was kinda lazy. I didn’t want to work for anything if it could be handed to me. I also didn’t realize or care, for that matter, that people could go out and get what they wanted and set standards for themselves or have high expectations of the world and the people in it. I had never learned to do that. I never learned that hard work pays off. I never learned that effort must be made and gratification of pleasure must be deferred in order to receive any kind of payoff. In my mind I was really only seeking physical pleasure anyway. I had no concept of higher-level types of fulfillment that could actually be earned. I was child-like in my thinking, believing that happiness should just come to me! That I should have what everyone else has: a perfect life!

Looking back, the only thing I earned (before recovery) was the shrewd ability to detect lies, the strength to endure useless, uncalled for pain, and a ridiculously high tolerance for bizarre, unhealthy behavior.

All pointless qualities, unless I planned to live in torment the rest of my life.

When the light bulb finally went off (and it was more like a fluorescent light bulb that snaps and sputters and grows into light slowly, rather than one of those regular bulbs that just pops on immediately!) I realized that if I wanted to change and grow and get out of the bad situation I was in I need to TAKE ACTION. I needed to earn my way out by working hard. I did the following, and not without moments of weakness, sadness and occasional failure:

I read books. MILLIONS OF THEM http://currentlyundefined.wordpress.com/books/
I went back to college and started to build a life for myself
I took on small amounts of responsibility and LEARNED how to handle myself in new situations.
I changed people, places and things and decided to surround myself only with healthy people.
I quit complaining. If I could change my situation, I change it. If I couldn’t, I made peace with it.
I stopped waiting for light bulb moments. Instead I realized that inspiration too, can be earned if you work at it!
I kept a journal of my progress, and this blog!
I challenged myself every day to do better than the last. By doing this, I became stronger and better able to handle things like NC.
I got real. No more thinking that a man would make my life better, or that a man would save me. I would save me and I challenged myself to find beauty, happiness and goodness in things other than men.
I took action: possibly the biggest challenge for LAs is actual WORK. I stopped whining about my circumstances and set out to change things. Instead of thinking in terms of “if only” I began to think in concrete, constructive terms: this is what I’ve got and this is what I need to do in order to become something better.
I believed in myself. At first I didn’t. I didn’t think I was capable of change. I thought I was a victim of my own stupidity. But at the first sign of change within me, I had hope. I thought about what makes great leaders great. Nothing that I myself did not possess. I too could conquer things and be better.
I never gave up. Sure I wanted to quit and crawl back to the comfort of my old life many times. MANY. But a funny thing happens when you really start to put the work into your own recovery, you change the fabric of your being to the point where going back is almost as hard as moving forward (if not harder). I also outgrew the taste for my old life. When you become capable, and responsible for your own life, you know true freedom. And once you’ve tasted freedom, you suddenly realize that working for it is a worthwhile payoff.

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