Some of us are done with receiving advice. We have read every book, we have heard every parable, we KNOW exactly what it takes to be healthier. And yet, we’re still stuck. Why is this so? Is it because we are still missing a key piece of advice or wisdom? No, not at all. What recovery entails now, is action. Enough learning. Enough soaking it all in. Enough analyzing. For some of us, it’s time to sit up, stand up, and put one foot in front of the other. We’ve graduated. It’s now time to get a job.
Many year ago, right before I took my recovery to the next level, I lost it. Meaning, I hit bottom, and I almost pulled my hair out. I had read, in yet another self-help book, “You deserve better.” GOD!!!! I KNOW THIS!!! If I read this one more time I’ll explode. But, I couldn’t seem to understand why I was still paralyzed and didn’t feel any better, and my life certaintly wasn’t any better, despite knowing this truth. The answer was simple, I may have known what was best for me, but I didn’t know the next step. I thought “knowing” was the end of it. I was wrong. It’s not! The next step is to take action. Oh hell, maybe I did know that the next step was taking action, but I was scared to death. I was scared that if I changed or did something unfamiliar, I would fail. And I did fail! But mostly I succeeded. Still, I didn’t exactly know what actions to take.
And really, what kind of action do you take when all the lessons in every book you’ve ever read simply end at “you deserve better”? How exactly does “you deserve better” translate into action?
Well, unlike all those self-help books that meant well, but kinda left me hanging, I will offer three actions you can begin to take to get your recovery to the next level:
- Start to practice using boundaries: Well, when you believe that you “deserve better” in life, you do not allow yourself to hang around with or be in the presence of people who harm you, bring you down, insult you, ignore you or make you feel bad about yourself. So, think about the people in your life. DO you know someone, a friend, a family member, a partner who might not bring much goodness into your life? Start to limit contact with that person. Start to create a boundaries to protect yourself from that person. If they text you, maybe this means not responding. If they invite you out, maybe this means you decline. Creating boundaries is an action you can take to start keeping the bad vibes out and the good vibes in. Surround yourself with healthier people instead. 1
- Do something you love: Don’t be “all talk and no action.” Reading, writing, dancing, singing, horseback riding, bike riding, painting, drawing, etc. There is something in this world you love to do (that does not include other people!). And if you don’t know what it is, TRY different activities until you find something that makes you feel at least remotely interested. It took me at least 5 times before I started to like cycling. The first time I tried it I hated it and was right ready to quit. But someone told me, give it another try, and I did. And the better I became at it, the more I liked it. If you think you will instantly fall in love with a hobby or activity you are wrong. Just as it is impossible to fall in love on the first date, it is also impossible to fall in love with an activity on the first try. You may really like it–but it takes a while to really feel love for that activity.
- Begin to teach people how to treat you by creating values: If you don’t like when your PoA cheats on you or flirts with other women, just complaining about it or fighting about it does not teach him or her anything IF you continue to stay in that relationship. The only thing you are teaching your partner is that you’re a complainer. Chances are, he can handle that. And because he knows you’re not going anywhere, he will continue to cheat. You need to teach that you do not accept infidelity and the way to teach that is not to threaten or cajole or manipulate or beg. But to leave. People who do not accept infidelity leave the relationship. Period. Why? Because fidelity is part of their value system. Know your VALUES and stick to them. Form relationships with people who share your values and limit your exposure to people who don’t share your values. Example: I do not believe in taking drugs. I think it’s dangerous, scary, and self destructive. I have taught people who have come into my life that they will lose me if they do drugs. ANd I have stuck to that value. I have lost boyfriends because I have this value, but I was able to retain something far more important.
Learning and reading about addiction and who you are and what you deserve is a necessary first step to recovery and getting healthier. But it does not end there. It can’t end there. What would be the point? It’d be like a student graduating with a degree in engineering only to move back in with their parents and watch TV all day. Don’t waste your education!