• David Sales

Leaving Neverland

Learning how to deal with disappointment in recovery hasn't been easy. I suppose it is one reason I try not to look too far ahead and try not to get my hopes up. I try not to have unreasonable expectations, but sometimes I can't help myself.

Addressing the past is never a simple thing, especially if an addiction has created long-lasting consequences. Some consequences lessen with the passing of time, but some may stay with us forever. At least it feels that way. My danger area, for my recovery, is when certain wants and needs seem completely unattainable and I use the word never. Never is a hope killer, a pathway to entering the rabbit hole of self-abuse, and an excuse to punish ourselves endlessly for past mistakes. It is a waste of time - at worst it becomes a simple way to question if being sober is worth it. Valuing my sobriety is hard enough without allowing my thoughts to ask "what's the point?"

Combating this requires work on my part. Replacing never with something finite like - not right now, not today, or perhaps one day - is really the only way I have found to fight against this defeated thinking. Succeeding in that doesn't mean I have to sit with some disappointment.

It is disappointing when I want to move on and find a little more freedom in my life, only to find the barriers are too great. I had to deal with one of those old messes last week, make the call, get the information, and based on reality, accept that this desire to move on is unattainable. At least for the foreseeable future. I had hoped that time and success in recovery may have changed that. It hasn't and it won't until my financial situation changes to a level that seems impossible in this moment.

When I ended the call, I admit to breaking down for a little while. I am not embarrassed to share that as tears are just a side effect of recovery and I have long passed the need to think of myself as weak for having them. At least sober tears seem to have a releasing effect. The endless tears I shed while drunk were empty, encouraging me to drink more to stop them. So yes, I cry sometimes, but less often than I did when I was early in my recovery.

While I was very disappointed and had to work through the emotions and remorse, I found at least some mental freedom even though the physical freedom is out of reach.

I had the courage to make the call, I now know where I stand, I know what my current limitations are, and I don't need to think about that desire right now. I can focus on other solutions and directions. In that, I found different freedom. For today, that is enough.

That brings me back to the foundation of my recovery... living the day I can, not the one I can't.