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Some of us who have lived through the disease of addiction or alcoholism know that in many cases, we would simply rather not know the real truth about things. For example, take the alcoholic who wakes up one morning, knowing that they must have blacked out the night before (because there are huge chunks of time missing from their memory). For them, ignorance would really be bliss. There is a huge feeling of dread that they did some horrible things, but they can not put their finger on exactly what it was. In most cases they would rather not know, and if they must know, they will likely try to medicate their feelings about it if it is indeed bad enough.
What you don’t know can’t hurt you?
As recovering addicts who have lived through much denial, we have forfeited our right to claim bliss through ignorance. Denial is what got us into so much trouble in the first place. We have a responsibility in recovery to try to gain new knowledge of how to live a more effective life, even if that means discovering some uncomfortable things about ourselves.
That’s right, the road to self discovery and personal growth is going to have some bumps along the way…things we would rather not look at about ourselves. Take for example, in the 12 step program, which has us carefully identifying our character defects and then making an effort to remove them. The idea here is not that we can get healthier by sticking our head into the sand and ignoring things about ourselves that we don’t like. Instead, we have to get rigorously honest with ourselves and examine the parts about our life that we like the least…..and then take corrective action to try to directly confront those issues. It is a difficult approach and that is why it produces solid results if someone actually follows through and does the footwork.
Even without working a 12 step program, people in recovery are going to need to practice rigorous honesty and become seekers of truth. We need to develop a mindset of growth and that means that we have to go beyond seeing everything in terms of pure chance and luck. In other words, we need to adopt a belief system that allows us to reach out and help others as our life begins to improve in recovery. We need to make a difference in the lives of others and have the knowledge that what we are doing in our recovery is worthwhile.
In other words, we need to live consciously and deliberately in order to achieve the kind of growth that is going to keep us clean and sober over the long haul. We can not achieve this kind of long term, purposeful growth if we have our head in the sand. We cannot achieve these kind of results if we are claiming that “ignorance is bliss” and just bouncing through our lives without pushing ourselves to grow and improve, to learn new things, or to examine our faults and take corrective action.
We cannot grow without self awareness as our baseline.
We cannot make important changes if we do not thoroughly examine our lives.
We cannot afford the luxury of ignorance in recovery……