"Secrets of Recovery"

Are you inspired by people who have overcome their weaknesses?


Stories abound about people who have triumphed over addiction, depression, failure, and fear.  It seems their demons are behind them; they learned their great lessons and have created billion-dollar businesses, soulful careers, or unimaginable peace.  They are saving lives and changing the world.  


What are the secrets to such awe-inspiring recovery?  

Recovery Defined


Recovery is defined as being restored to a natural balance, a healthy state.  But how do we know if we have truly recovered?  After a particularly depressing day, one in which I had to admit that nothing I tried was working, I found myself wondering if I will ever get “there,” especially since I already thought I had.


Are people really able to put their demons behind them, never again feeling fear or anger or grief?  Even Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane begged God to take his cup away from him.  He was frightened of his fate, and he was one of the most enlightened guys who ever lived. Clearly his demons were not behind him.  They were right there, front and center.


The ability of today’s thought leaders to recover hinged on their ability to manage their feelings, to remain in charge in spite of the negative self-talk that blared in their mental speakers.  We never stop learning and growing and becoming; we never stop recovering.  


The demons are always there, but our task is to reduce their significance, to avoid making choices that pull us away from who we are, and to recognize that maybe they have something to teach us.


A Recovery Opportunity


About that depressing day:  I finally visited a dermatologist after three years of coping with an embarrassing skin condition called rosacea.  It looks like acne, and nothing sucks the self-confidence out of me more than looking into the mirror and seeing bright red bumps all over my face.  Nothing.  


I had tried everything from washing my face twice a day with noncomedogenic soap to eating organically to avoiding caffeine, sun, and sugar - always hopeful that one morning I would wake up to a clear face.  The breakouts continued.  In You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay writes that skin problems represent “anxiety, fear.  Old buried guck.”  The papules are a glaring reminder that “I am being threatened.”  Great.  


This condition arose after I had my breakdown, which occurred after I stopped taking antidepressants three years ago.  Maybe my body feels free to express fear physically now that it’s not numbed out by drugs.  But what could I possibly feel anxious about now?


I have faced more fear than I ever have in my life in the last three years.  Now I hold out my hands and ask, “There’s more?”  The bumps on my face scream to the world that I am not recovered.  Much of my writing is about facing fear, becoming who we are; I worry that I am a fraud.  What could possibly be threatening me?


I faced my fear of getting off medication and of life without the security of my job.  Facing these fears taught me that there is always enough and provided me with myriad opportunities to experience success.  I played a huge role in supporting my husband and believing our business success into existence, something I had never done before.


So, why am I breaking out after having faced so much fear already and experiencing so much success?  Louise Hay writes that the skin is “a sense organ” and that it “protects our individuality.”  The affirmation she suggests is “I feel safe to be me.”  Is that what’s going on?  Do I not feel safe to be me?  


Well, damn, I thought I’d been doing just that for the last three years - being me.  



I did some self-examination, and I realized that she’s right.  It doesn’t feel safe to be me.  It never has.  I live in the Deep South, where sweet Jesus is served in casual conversations like sweet tea at dinner.  Funerals become revivals, because Lord knows somebody might need to be saved, lest their souls burn in eternal hell fire. You’d best be sittin’ in a church pew every Sunday, otherwise your evil ways will be the subject of every wagging tongue in the family.  And gossip burns through families like fire through a dry forest.   

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