It’s Okay To Be Human In Recovery
I want to make it clear that it is not my intention to bash 12-step programs; I love them. I’ve been an active member of one since the day I got clean. I’m grateful for every suggestion I’ve ever received, as those suggestions have shaped the beautiful life I have today.
I have been noticing lately, however, that having feelings or reacting as a human being might—is somehow “not allowed.” For example, I mentioned recently that I felt content with my life today, and was told, “Be careful you don’t get complacent.” Huh? Being happy is something to be wary of? I thought that was the point. Another day, I was easily irritated, ie. people were irking me at the DMV. The feedback I got? “You’re not practicing acceptance of others.”
It must be a failing on my part.
After six days in a row cooped up with a toddler who was exercising her willful streak, I needed a break. When I shared, it was suggested that I, “Be grateful she’s healthy.” As if somehow wishing I didn’t get hit in the face with a cardboard book all day means lack of gratitude.
Summer is a busy time of year, and my meeting attendance has gone down from four days a week to two. “Watch out for the lapse before the relapse.” You’re kidding, right? It stands to reason that after almost four years without a drink or drug, my meeting needs might change.
It’s a busy time at work for the hubby so his hours are long and he’s not around to help me? “Be grateful he has a job.” Thanks, but missing my partner is also not a lack of gratitude.
I have lost count of the times I have been on the phone with a young woman in early recovery listening to her sob and describe clear symptoms of PMS. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me! I’m tired, I’m crying about everything, and I snapped at my roommate for no reason.” When I ask, “Are you about to start your period?” I hear, “Well yes, but so-and-so at the meeting said I’m not working hard enough.”
So, women working 12-step programs are immune to PMS? Sign me up!
My personal favorite? “That wasn’t a very spiritual thing to say,” in response to a snarky or sarcastic remark. Since when does a snarky comment, unrelated to another person, mean my relationship with my Higher Power is in question?
I’m snarky sometimes. I assure you, I’m not going to burn for it.
Before I was a member of a 12-step program, I was a human with failings and feelings. Working a program doesn’t mean I’m not human anymore. There needs to be room for feeling and behaving as humans in a 12-step program. Even the yucky stuff, like judging someone else, being crabby, or feeling tired. None of those things mean I am somehow not working a program the best way I know how.
It means recovery hasn’t turned me into a Stepford Wife.
Thank God for that.
- I Had a Miscarriage in Recovery and I Am Not Okay
- I Am Not A “Junkie”
- Unpacking our Past to Face the Future
- He Said I Wasn’t Good Enough – He Was Right
- There Are Some Memories I Don’t Want to Remember
Rachel has been in recovery since October 29, 2010, and she’s not afraid to speak out about it. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two daughters.