Balancing Remembering Where We Come From and Where We Are Going
What’s the saying? “You can’t see the road in front of you if you’re always looking in the rearview”? Or something along those lines. We may not be able to tell you what the definitive quote is but we can tell you that there is a strand of truth to its words. Living a life with mental illness or some kind of affliction can feel a lot like a scene in a horror movie: you’re always being chased by this malevolent force. You want to just keep looking forward, toward where you need to go, but you can’t help but keep looking back to check. It can feel slow and like its impeding your progress, but you just can’t help it. You want to remember where that thing is so you know, but it can do more harm to you than good sometimes.
By looking back you are looking right at the monster. You are going to be looking at it dead in the eye and you have to deal with seeing it coming after you. We know they say that a horror movie is ruined when we see the monster, but we can assure you that that’s not the case in real life. In a lot of ways, our illness is this monster. It is the force that you feel like you are still running from like you can’t escape it. The memories of how you were before recovery haunt you and create a feeling of unease like you’re not that far from toppling back into that way of life.
It feels like you’re looking through your old yearbooks, and finding a lot of old pain in those pages and pictures. We all feel a desire to ignore it. Why would we seek out pain when we can avoid it? What’s the point in rehashing these old feelings and creating this feeling of fear and unease? Well, because there is a lot of strength in it too.
We can spend our lives running from the past and trying to forget about all the pain we’ve felt, even outside of our illness and path to recovery. We can train ourselves to ignore any little detail that could remind us of times that are behind us. We can work hard to feel like we aren’t hung up on anything, like we have changed and we are going to stay that way. We understand that sentiment; we know that in many ways, it helps to change everything. To strip the walls bare and put up some new pictures. Rearrange the furniture and make your room look completely different. You’ve turned a new corner in your life so why not make your surroundings match that?
Play the Tape Back
How can you appreciate where you are without remembering where you’ve been? You can’t appreciate the ending of a book without knowing the chapters that came before it. Maybe the beginning wasn’t the best but you can appreciate how much better it got. Immerse yourself in those dusty, old pages, find the pain that you feel in them and accept it. It’s okay for it to exist; that doesn’t mean you have to be surrounded by it. There is good in there. Memories, nostalgia, and a reminder of why you are who you are. Pain is a part of life and it is necessary. You aren’t going to go through a life free of pain even after going through recovery. It won’t magically fix everything. Running from it won’t get you anywhere. It’s time to face it and learn from it.
We know we all have regrets about life before recovery. We know that you don’t want to be that person again. We know you may even feel shame about who you are. But we also accept you for it. We accept that person and their shortcomings. We accept their struggle with something that was out of their control. We don’t define you by who you used to be; we respect you for the changes you have made to be better. We want you to do the same.
It doesn’t have to be like a horror movie. You don’t have to be scared of looking behind you. You can face that monster chasing you and tell it you’re not afraid anymore. You can stand up for yourself and tear that monster down. It’s only there because we created it; we can destroy it too. We have the power over it. Let yourself look back at your life before recovery and remember the good in it. Find the people who supported you, who helped you, find the decisions you made and why you made them. Find the good in yourself at that time. You’re good now and it was always there. You can keep moving forward even with looking in the rearview. Just don’t focus on it. Keep it at a glance and never stop moving forward.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with addiction or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 or [email protected]