Doing Today's Recovery Today
by Carmen Renee Berry
Reproduction in any form without the
express written permission of the author is prohibited.
This evening I trudged up the steps to my condo, weary and resentful of
the work that still needed to be done. Sorting through my mail I saw a
hand-addressed envelope amongst the bills so I opened it first..
A woman had recently read my book "When Helping You Is Hurting
Me" and graciously took the time to let me know how my insights
encouraged her to take better care of herself. A sad smile came to my
lips as I read her kind words. "I'd like to write her back and
thank her," I thought, "but I'm so over-committed and busy
helping others in their recovery that I just don't have the time."
I've never been a big fan of Freud's, but I do wish he had been right
about one thing - that insight was sufficient for change. To paraphrase
Dale Ryan, if intellectual understanding could fix me, I'd be all better
by now. In fact, I had enough insight into my addiction over ten years
ago to write a book about the subject. And it would have been a very
insightful book, if do I say so myself.
But living our recovery is altogether different than waxing eloquent
about the problem. Insight comes easily to me. So, unfortunately, does
slipping back into my addictive helping and workaholism, especially when
my addiction is disguised as "recovery ministry." I remember
one week several years ago in which I drove for an hour to give an all
day seminar to child protective services workers on how to prevent
burnout and take better care of themselves. The next day I drove an hour
in the opposite direction to give two back-to-back workshops for mental
health professionals on how to prevent burnout and take better care of
themselves. I woke up early the next morning to catch a plane to
northern California to present a workshop to a state-wide convention of
city officials on how to prevent burnout and take better care of
themselves. A cab was waiting outside the workshop door to whisk me off
to the airport so I could fly out of state in time to give a keynote
address on . . .yes, you guessed it, how to prevent burnout and take
better care of ourselves.
I Have Changed.
I've been in recovery for nine years last Spring, a journey that has
been more painful and more rewarding that I ever imagined. The changes,
both internally and externally, have been tremendous and real.
I am more attune to my body's signals of stress and distress than I was
prior to my first burnout in 1985. Rather than blame my body for
migraines, sleepless nights or loss of appetite, I now recognize these
body-experiences are God's way of trying to get my attention.
I know how to nurture myself better through many avenues including
massage, drawing, prayer, quiet walks, journaling, country western
dancing and music.
I have a more supportive community of friends and colleagues who love me
enough to confront me when I'm over-doing it and nurture me when I'm
I have a faith in a God who loves me, not merely as "an
instrument" or an object used for some so-called higher good - a
God who loves me just the way I am because I am a person of value.
I realize that I am not perfect. The changes I've experienced are real,
but I am still in process. And I am kinder to myself when I make
mistakes or fall back into my addictive pattern.
Yesterday's Change Won't Keep Me Sober
As I look at my enormous "to do" lists, groan over the
unreturned phone calls, apologize for another missed deadline and
explain to my friends why I can't see them until the middle of next
month, I have to acknowledge that I will always be susceptible to the
addictive process. I don't always live out all of the insight I have,
nor do I always take advantage of the wealth of support God provides for
me. I do not like it when my personal addictions rise from the ashes to
threaten my serenity yet again. At times I fear that I've not made any
real changes at all. The truth is, however, I have changed. I am a
healthier person battling similar problems.
Because I made positive choices yesterday, doesn't protect me from
making mistakes today. I continue my process of healing, acknowledging
the gains made and the woundedness remaining. My hope comes not from the
illusion that I am fixed, but from the rich relationship I have with
God. Every day I have the wonderful and terrifying opportunity to turn
my life over to God who is the perfecter and finisher of my faith.
Reproduction in any form without the express written permission of the
author is prohibited.
Go to Carmen
Berry's Articles in STEPS Magazine.