The Frustrations of Recovery

In no uncertain terms, recovery will have its moments of agony and extreme frustration. It will not look like you want it to look, and it will not feel like you want it to feel. To say you will wish it will speed up is an understatement. I can remember several times where I just yelled in my car “I just don’t get it……why is this so (bleeping) hard!!???!!??!!” I can remember times of extreme agony at how Samantha and I were stuck for so long, or that every inch of healing and restoration came with a price of extreme frustration, misunderstanding, some yelling and a desire to quit about every week. I hated myself and I hated recovery.

Time after time, it was as if there was this poking and prodding to just give up. What could be poked at was poked at. What could be frustrated was frustrated. What could go wrong, went wrong, and went wrong more than once. Then there were money issues, then the kids were sick almost every other week; the heavy things just kept getting heavier.

We just wanted to heal. We just wanted our lives back. We just wanted to get moving in the right direction. We just wanted things to work!

One Saturday, I had pneumonia and needed Samantha to drive me to urgent care. Since it was a Saturday the fees were going to be more money that we didn’t have. Every parent wonders why kids always feel worse after hours, and fevers always spike when the general doctor’s hours are over. I waited and waited and she seemed to be concerned about everything else and everyone else except me, in my misery. Finally, I just got up from the bed, put flip flops on and a hat and got in the car and drove myself to urgent care speeding down our little quiet street. I remember saying as I drove “I quit….this is too much….I’m waving the white flag. I give up. This is too much, it’s not worth it.” When I got to urgent care I laid on the floor and waited for them to call me back. Yes, the floor. Of an urgent care. I didn’t care anymore. I had reached the height of frustration. I was a spectacle to a room of sick people on a Saturday morning.

There was what seemed like several thousand moments of the above story which seemed like tipping point after tipping point of wanting to throw the towel in.

But here we are, 8 years later and no one quit. We had every opportunity to quit, but somehow, some way, by the grace of a God (who put up with far more than I ever would have), we didn’t bail. It always seems like it’s not worth it till you get on the other side and realize just how valuable the prize actually is. It was worth every tear, every excruciation, and every cuss word (and we them freely, believe me).

Here are a few quick, pointed observations about the frustrations of recovery.

1.       Whatever needs to be poked at, will somehow be poked at. If you want to heal and if you want to be restored, the underlying issues you don’t want to confront will have to be addressed. If you don’t address them, they will still rule you and rule the situation.

2.       If there is a backdoor (meaning some secret way out you’ve tucked away in the back of your mind. Somewhere else to turn if this doesn’t go as planned, a Plan B) you will feel catapulted towards it. It’s easy, it feels safe, but trust me when I say it is not. Give it 90 days and weld the back door shut. If you have a back door or an ‘out’ you’ll always go to it. But if you mentally and emotionally commit to not going through any back door for a short, definitive amount of time, you’ll be able to use that time to get an idea of whether or not the marriage can be saved and redeemed.

3.       It’s never easy to do anything that will change the world, inspire others, protect the kids, restore a marriage, or keep a family together. The things that matter in life more than money, cars, houses or status are never easy. They are hard as all get out and will require all of you.

4.       It will require all of you, as quite frankly, all of you needs to be healed. Not a part of you: all of you. All of your dysfunction. All of your deception. All of your trauma. All of your addiction.

5.       The frustration pushes you to the end of yourself. You don’t have the power in and of yourself to fix yourself or your spouse. You need a proven pathway and process and you need the grace of God. If you could fix you, my friend you would have already done it. Reach out for grace. It’s OK to come to the end of yourself. It’s OK to want to quit, but don’t. Go for a run. Go yell in your pillow. Go call a friend and scream every obscenity you need to, but don’t quit. Quit doing the wrong things. Quit going out the back door. Quit reverting back to the habits which caused this trauma in the first place. But don’t quit moving forward in love.


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