Written By: Katie Schipper
Giving Back Is Whats It’s All About
You Get What You Give
There’s a saying in recovery that gets repeated so often it sometimes loses its power. It goes a little something like – you’ll get from your sobriety exactly what you put into it.
This initially sounds like another annoying cliché that at some point had meaning, but it’s much more than that. The truth is, recovery can be viewed as a metaphor for the rest of your life. What you put in, you’ll get back (and usually, you get back a little more than expected).
Giving Back and Learning to Try
The early stages of recovery are usually very uncertain territory. Even if you’ve tried to get sober before, or gone for periods of time without drinking or using, the time it sticks is usually a particularly desperate time. Now, this isn’t always true, but seems to happen a lot. Desperation is one of the best gifts an addict or an alcoholic can receive, but with desperation comes fear and uncertainty about what to do next.
That’s why a drug rehab for women, an IOP therapy group, counselors, and people in meetings suggest the freshly sober woman doesn’t wait to focusing on her recovery.
There’s a window within this desperation that’s opened by pain. Once that pain begins to subside, the window starts to close. At some point, if work on your recovery hasn’t begun, the initial pain and desperation will have subsided enough that reasons for staying sober magically disappear. At this point, drinking and getting high seem totally reasonable. However, if you start making changes while this window is open, there are some pretty immediate benefits.
It’s in this space that newly sober women discover the value of trying. Many of us feel like we’ve been trying desperately for months, years, and lifetimes to effect a change, yet nothing’s happened. Most opportunities come up as dead ends in active addiction. Even for those women who managed to maintain a home, or hold onto a job or relationship, there’s usually a pervasive feeling of emptiness and self-doubt. Those feelings make the idea of trying for anything sound overwhelming. On a personal and individual level, you have to be fed up with yourself to the point that change and effort seem the better option.
One of the beautiful truths of recovery is that from that place of desperation often comes a wellspring of hope. Still, the only way to get there is to try, in spite of past experiences that taught you trying’s fruitless.
This is the “giving” portion of getting back what you give. You have to try. You have to show up in spite of changing moods and circumstances. You have to put forth an effort regardless of how you feel.
Getting Back What You Give
The flip side of giving back and trying and working and consistently showing up is what you get in return. The reality of giving is that it has very little to do with what your actions. It has more to do with the willingness to try giving.
The idea isn’t to reach a certain step, or a certain life goal, or a certain benchmark by a certain time. The idea is to move through recovery with your eyes ever on willingness, honesty, faith, and other ideals of spiritual growth. With those concepts as your focus, the universe (God, your Higher Power, who or however you conceive of a loving consciousness) gives back to you endlessly. Of course, there are material gifts for hard work (if you get a job and save money, you can move into an apartment and buy a car, etc.), the real reward take the form of what we sought in the bottle, the pill, and the powder. The real reward is peace. Peace of mind, body, and soul.
What you find when you give yourselves to recovery is that within you there’s a treasure you can access at any time. It’s always been and will always be there. That is what makes the work, the seeking, and the effort so worthwhile.