Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Trusting the Process of Recovery

I was 23 years old and my future was uncertain. I had endured a variety of treatments for my Bipolar Disorder, none of which had provided any significant relief for my condition. I was in despair, with the realization that I could potentially be affected in such a significant way that I would be unable to hold down a job, not to mention have a family or any other semblance of the so-called “American Dream.”
At that time I was in the Erie County Medical Center psychiatric unit; a scary place indeed. It was one of the several times I had been hospitalized there. During one of these stays an older gentleman completed suicide. This simply served to create more fear in my mind.
Little did I realize it at the time, but I had an innate ability to trust the process of recovery. What I mean by this is that I was able to develop a sense of hope that then translated into faith. This feeling came from the belief that God could intervene in my life as I had seen this happen with others. If hope is the spark, then faith is the fire.

This faith meant trusting that God had my back. This meant that I had to believe that God would provide me with the strength to move forward. This meant that God would put the people in my life who could help guide me to a better way of life. This meant that I could find a way to end my suffering and go on to have a better quality of life.
And slowly, but surely I saw this beginning to manifest in my life. Some would call it luck or that I had just worked hard enough to create the positive changes in my life. But I know better than that. There have been so many “Godincidences” in my life that just can’t be explained in simple terms.

The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” I believe that this is what trusting the process is about. It’s easy to look at our past and make some kind of sense of how we ended up where we are but it can also be an indicator of where we want to go, including the choices we make.
In the course of my life I’ve had to rely on my faith to get through life’s ups and downs. And life hasn’t been easy (and whose is?). It could have been so simple to settle for just getting by but I had to believe that I could go further than even I thought was possible. The process of recovery, whether it be from addiction or a mental health challenge, takes a considerable amount of patience, persistence, hard work, and trust (faith).

In many respects, trusting the process of recovery can be a frightening prospect. So many people struggle every day. “So why should I believe that it can work for me?” you may ask. Simply stated, I believe that we all have the ability to go beyond where we currently are at. Mind you, not everyone will have exactly the life they may have had before, but with the ingredients I mentioned previously, this thing called recovery can actually happen.

Trusting the process also means believing that there are people who can help us along the way. After all, as I always say, “Recovery is not a solo sport.” It requires that we humble ourselves enough to be able to ask for help. “A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.” This has been one of the primary strengths of my own recovery. I learned a long time ago that I needed people to help me to manage my life in a healthy manner. Whether it be with family, friends, support groups, or faith communities, we can all use a little help along the way.

So what do you say? Do you trust the process? How has doing so helped you in your recovery? Feel free to leave a comment.

Be well!


  1. Karl, this is a great blog as we lean into Thanksgiving. Giving thanks to all those who were the God-given friends and support to continue trusting the process in your recovery is very timely. Rejoice and live gratefully. Alan

  2. It must start with the patient. The patient must admit to themselves that he or she is an addict, really meaning in it. That is one of the hardest to do when you addicted."to thine own self be true": William Shakespeare.Don't lie to yourself, you are the one who is responsible to get better, and as Karl has stated,it is a frightening prospect. It's like "Peanuts" , the comic strip by the late Charles Schultz's, someone takes Linus's blanket away, the blanket of drugs that you self medicate. You have to be strong inside, I think that is you who is the guard of you. Karl has outlined his way into recovery, through his faith in a higher power that guides him.I don't agree on the supernatural thoughts of faith.But I do believe that cognitive therapy is a help, that is why it is so important to keep your mind healthy exercise for your body.Food is also a trigger sometimes, it is important in what you eat. Read labels, stay away from high fructose foods. Learn your calories. You cannot have a quality of life if you are not whole.Make everyday a good day and smile if if you are unhappy.Even that people don't know it.Good luck everyone that is in recovery. You made a good choice.