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How do you know that recovery is real?


It’s a horrible scene, one which we can’t believe we will ever recover from. A major accident, a climber falls from a mountain, seeing a stroke victim… They all add up to a long term program of treatment or rehabilitation. We look at the victims after many months and can’t believe that it is true - yes, there are scars but they can speak, they can walk, they can smile. You never thought that you would see that again.

How many miracles have we seen that demonstrates recoveries that we couldn’t imagine? How many medics have testified to wondering how their patient could survive their injuries? As we near the end of the Life Recovery, Celebrate Recovery, 12 step program whatever the program is, we face the key question - How can we really know that Recovery is real?

The problem we face is that if legs or a back is broken, the person walks, we know. If the person loses their sight but regains it, we know. When a fear of leaving the house or driving a car again or standing on a high building, we know.

My Father suffered a stroke when there were 3 children in our family and one on the way. He was 30 years old. They said he would never walk again… He was in a wheel chair, he got out of the chair. They said that he had to walk with a frame, he threw the frame away. They gave him leg irons (I tried to pick one up as a child, I couldn’t), he put them in the cupboard. He had to use 2 sticks, he threw one away. He died at 81 having used only one stick. Was this a desire to overcome? a desire not to fail? a desire to care for his family? A dogged determination to live the best life that he could. His joy would have been removed, his experience of a growing family could not be lived…

Desire is the key, mixed with hope for a future not restricted by the opinion of others.

We come back to the opinion of the onlooker. We can actually see the recovery when it is a physical issue. What happens when it is within the mind or the Psyche of the person? By now, we hope to have developed a healthy relationship with the offender, one which is based on trust and a non-judgemental view. One which is forgiving and caring towards their welfare. When the person is challenged to reveal areas of weakness, they need to know that the environment is safe. The areas covered in this step of the program are challenging and realistic -

Recovery from…

…Resentment - holding back is not the answer. Many sceptics will deny that this is a real reason and want to dismiss it. Unless it is dealt with, there can be no possible recovery.

…Fear - Everyone has known a fearful moment. How can we ignore the reality of what has taken place? The sooner it is dealt with, the less the lingering effect is experienced. As we will see, fear can have many tentacles - fear of authority figures, fear of control or lack of it, fear of fear itself as President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke of after the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941.

…Repressed or Inappropriate anger - it would be a strong individual not to have experienced any form of anger, even if is was towards someone who acted violently towards innocents in a distant country. The issue here is to ensure that is does not re-occur in response to the slightest or innocent experience.

…Approval seeking - Here we have the effect of insufficient love for oneself, experiences of rejection or abuse or low self esteem.

…Caretaking - this maybe a misunderstood word. The program takes responsibility to follow through on issues. It is easy to pass someone by letting nature take it’s course or that the person is left to go his own way. That is a large part of why they are in the situation now.

…Control - this can be both aspects of the problem. Either allowing someone to dominate you or, equally, dominating those around you and not being satisfied with agreement.

…Abandonment - this embraces fear also. Too many of us know this feeling but coupled with the feelings of some of the above, life can become oppressive and restricted.

…Isolation, …frozen feelings, …low self-esteem, …irresponsibility and more, are all factors in the causes of individuals acting out of their owned wounded experiences.

We will never make an excuse or be apologetic for basing the recovery of offenders or addiction sufferers on the life and testimony of Jesus. From the many who are grateful for the diligence and care of those who run the courses which demonstrate true forgiveness, true hope only then can we ensure that the recovery is REAL.