The processes that make up recovery vary a great deal. There are thousands of them.
Understand this: the process is not your salvation. The process is not the answer. Sobriety is the answer. Recovery is the answer. Connecting with your higher power is the answer. But all of these processes that get you there are not the answer. They merely point to it.
So why consider the processes at all? Because we are striving to know how recovery works.
We do not all go through the same processes
Even though we are all in the process of recovery, we don’t necessarily go through the same exact things.
Let me give you an example. I had a therapist in my early recovery who taught me all about forgiveness. To be exact, this therapist had a traumatic childhood event that he had to work through in his own recovery. For years, he struggled with addiction because he had this gigantic, life-consuming resentment against those who had abused him in his youth. It wasn’t until he met a counselor who taught him about forgiveness that he was able to get any relief. For him, learning about the process of forgiving someone was a critical–perhaps even the most important–part of his recovery.
So you can see that for my therapist, the particular process of learning how to forgive was important. But this will not be true for everyone. In my case, I did not have a childhood crisis that needed forgiveness. Instead, I was prone to a pattern of self-pity, and had to learn the process of overcoming that.
Character Defects – An example from AA
The 12 step program of AA has us identify our character defects, then purposefully work to eliminate or minimize them.
Obviously, we all have different character defects. Removing each defect involves a process. Therefore, the processes that each of us goes through in recovery will be different.
We might work the same recovery program, but within that program, we all go through different processes in order to achieve sobriety.
So what is important here? A couple of things:
1) The vision, or goal, that drives the processes – the actual processes are not important. Sobriety is. The creative life in recovery is. So that is what we start with, and then the processes are just the means to an end. But they are not an end in themselves (as I once thought they were).
2) Recovery is a process, but you still need to have a goal, or a vision to strive towards. This will dictate the processes that you go through. That is why the creative life in recovery holds so much potential–instead of merely using a “process” to eliminate drugs and alcohol, you are using your creative potential to build yourself the life that you really want.