When we choose to enter recovery, I think most of us want it to be a straight upward climb. We know it’s going to be difficult, but at least we’ll be consistently making progress in the right direction.Unfortunately, that’s not realistic!
Recovery is more like a rollercoaster...we slowly climb up trying to keep our eyes straight ahead and then out of nowhere, we drop, sometimes plummeting down further than when we began. This can lead to feelings of failure, and embarrassment.
Someone in my life recently related it to doing a deep clean of your kitchen. Your kitchen may not be completely organized, but it’s fairly well-kept. The dishes, containers, and pots are stuffed away in cupboards. Out of sight, out of mind. It looks fine on the outside.
But when you finally decide to start the cleaning process, you have to take everything out. All the stuff in the cupboards. All the random things you never use that are stored on top of the fridge. Until all of a sudden you’re left with complete chaos covering your kitchen floor.
It may shock you.
“Everything looks worse now.”
“I should never have started this."
You may think you’ve just made a bigger mess. But you can’t get truly organized until you have shifted through all the crap that’s been hidden away, scrubbed out the grime and dust lurking in the back corners. Then you have to slowly replace the things you don’t need anymore, and rewire your brain to a completely new organizational system.
Recovery from unhealthy coping mechanisms is often like that. Things often get worse before they get better.
This linear view of recovery often lends itself to to the myth of “one size fits all” answers.
Like if you go to treatment for “x” amount of time you should be better. Or if you just believed what God says about you, you wouldn’t have this problem anymore. If you would just do x, y, and z you would be healed.
The thing is, I have never heard God say, “Janae, why can’t you get your life together? You know, you really shouldn’t be struggling anymore. You just aren’t trying hard enough.”
But you know who does say that? The devil. The Bible says he’s come to kill, steal, and destroy your life (John 10:10) and he wants you to feel like a failure. He wants you to feel worthless. Because all that shame only perpetuates the cycle of distress that leads to unhealthy coping mechanisms in the first place.
So no matter where you are on your recovery journey, or if you are supporting someone else in their recovery process, remember that there is grace. We don’t have to work our way to God. He meets us right where we’re at.