A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Friday, July 29, 2016

To Addicts Who Are Sitting On The Fence

"'Sitting on the fence' is a common idiom used in English to describe one's neutrality or hesitance to choose between two sides in an argument or a competition, or inability to decide due to lack of courage."   Wikipedia

Something that struck me years ago is that addicts can approach recovery attitudes and behaviors while they are still using.  You can sit on the fence and still read support books, listen to audio recordings, watch YouTube videos, listen in on telephone meetings, go to face to face meetings, begin or continue a practice of prayer, practice honesty especially with yourself, write in a journal.  You are then at least considering the other side and continuing to learn on a daily basis.  It's a way of acknowledging that you have a serious problem, a way to re-learn how to love yourself.  I say re-learn because I don't think we start out as infants and small children hating ourselves.  We are taught self hatred young by others who don't love themselves and this self attack, the internal critic, leads us down paths that often touch addiction.  I believe that there is such a thing as an addictive thought pattern and what runs throughout the core of the pattern is negativity.  Self-blame and judgment and blaming and judging others creates a vicious cycle.

I think it's wrong to tell addicts that they have to stop using before they can get into recovery.  That's like saying that because they use, there is something wrong with them that they have to fix before they can be included.  There is nothing wrong with using addicts.  That's back to a shame based mentality which keeps them stuck in the cycle of addiction.  They are sick human brothers and sisters who deserve help, not judgment.  Who they are inside is excellent, but they need the support and they need to train themselves to care for themselves.

Perhaps there could be separate meetings for people who are still using to go to, maybe meetings in people's homes.  Those who are in a firm recovery could be speakers for those groups.  It might be a gentler way to reach using addicts and lead them into abstinence so they can move on to go to all the other meetings that are available where they can practice recovery behaviors in earnest and be surrounded by others who are doing the same.  It just seems to me that fewer people would have to hit bottom (and possible not survive it) if there were transitional meetings for people who are not yet willing to go into withdrawal.  We are still too puritanical.  We still judge addicts as weak and immoral when they are actually strong and sick at the same time.  How can we teach using addicts about compassion for themselves and others when we won't practice compassion ourselves?
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