I told my friend she didn’t have to sit in a corner alone and figure herself out and then come back to the community and present herself, whole and perfect. She could ask questions. She could read. She could have role models. She could mess up. She could learn through trial and error. She could do the same thing over and over until it’s clear it doesn’t work anymore. All of that is ok. It’s even ok to do it alone, but it would probably be miserable that way. She probably needed people – the people who would answer her questions or write the books, who would be role models. Those who would let her mess up.
It’s pretty typical that I would offer this advice and not take it myself. I got that advice from my own advisors and role models. I believed in it, yet I withheld it from the wounded parts of myself. I was afraid of dealing with the intense emotions that would arise. I still don’t call my sponsor unless I have been perfect at recovery for that day. I never call him if I miss a meeting, even though he tells me I should, even though it would help both of us. This is something I want to change.
I have a reminder on my phone that pops up every day at 10am: “I can cope with intense emotions.” Beneath it is a list of examples of when I have done so before: Any time I have cried. Any time I wrote about my feelings. The time I wrote out my list of motivations for writing, the time I did that for recovery. I look at this every morning and relax a little bit and realize that it’s already changing.