It’s true that science debates that your brain stopping its development the moment—or around it—that you start using drugs, alcohol, or other harmful behaviors. So it’s safe to say, for me, that when I first had gotten clean, I’d of have the brain of a thirteen-year-old child if I hadn’t tried for recovery. It’s also true that when I first got clean I was having tantrums, moral conflict within and without myself, crying spells for mommy and daddy, among other “childish behaviors.”
These problems I were having were related to, and from, my prior addictions, alcoholism, codependency’s, and bad behaviors. And I can’t say that my brain was fully developed then as well. I was merely 20 years old when I’d first gotten a true sense of the recovery road that most talk about. And, it may come as harsh words to you, but, hearing these words from my father were the best thing that could have ever happened to me; as they finally strike a bell in my good state of recovery nearly six years later:
- Life will grow you up if you let it
- Just grow up!
- It’s time to start acting your age
As you read these things that I were told in my first most months of recovery and getting clean you’d think that I was being emotionally abused, or something, right? Well, if as I’ve debated about science above, you’d be certainly wrong that these statements aren’t just harsh words of reality! Maybe all that I needed was a little bit—or a lot—of growing up…
We can all attest to that when we started our addictive patterns we gave up any sense of what you would call “normalcy” on the path to true adulthood and true mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual development we had coming our way. And for those of you whom attend 12-step programs take into account how many times you’ve heard someone say that they came to a meeting “morally, physically, and spiritually bankrupt.” This is because that when we started our use we halted that path towards what most others, who were not using, were getting in terms of responsibility from people, places, and things when “growing up.”
So when I would have an emotional meltdown in my early recovery because I didn’t know how to cope with something, or weren’t used to it, it wasn’t fully wrong of someone to say, “Grow some thicker skin.” It was actually exactly what I needed to hear, because as the years went on into my recovery I learnt how to cope with things not only in my way, but the way the world around me wanted me to cope with them as well. These were the things that I’d been depriving myself of during active addiction and granting myself some tough love actually did me some good.
So, for those of you out there who think the world is being too harsh, think of it another way. Think of it as a process of growing up, because the hard things are the ones that are worth fighting for. No one had ever told me that recovery was going to be easy, and every time I prayed that it was, it got harder instead. And some of the times I’d go and try and wait it out instead of giving myself exactly what I needed, “A dose of reality, a knock on the head, and someone to tell me that it’s time to start growing up!” Because when you’re truly ready for your fourth step, or to take a moral inventory, or to give yourself a real dose of reality, it’ll be there waiting to take you the rest of the way into recovery for whatever you were missing before.
And now for those parents out there who blame themselves for doing the tough love routine, don’t. Why? Because sometimes this is the only way you’re going to get through to someone who needs this the most. And for all the times you think that your loved one will just hear it and walk away, you’re wrong there too. My father and I fought every step of the way, but he told me something else that no one else would too. He said, “I’m your father. I’m giving you the advice that no one else either has the nerve, time, strength, or want to do. The world won’t sit there and pat you on the back when you’re feeling down. That’s called a resentment and just another easy way back into addiction. I’m doing the right thing for you and this family and will hold my ground for this, for one reason… I love you! And sometimes you need to hear the things that no one else wants to tell you.”
In short, to say that when I started using drugs at thirteen and then quit at twenty, I looked like a twenty-year-old who was acting thirteen-years-old. Now it might not be the wrong thing to agree that a little bit, or a lot of bit, of growing up needs to take place. The truth comes in how you phrase it, the way you handle it, and in which way you want to grow up. Do you want to just grow up according to someone you “think” is yelling at you, just to appease them? Or do you want to grow up according to a positive lifestyle that will take you further into life than anything you knew was possible? I think the latter sounds perfect to me, and that’s why I chose recovery. And that is where the saying comes from: “It’s never too late to gain recovery. Recovery IS possible!”
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