At a Twelve Step Club in California, there was a soft drink machine that took quarters only. People would ask one another for change for a dollar, and the joking reply was always “I used to be afraid of change.” Recovery requires change, and it can be scary, even for a person who wants it.
Undertaking a big change can be a mixture of excitement and strong anxiety. Going from elementary school to junior high was a big step toward adolescence and a little more freedom, but it’s easy to remember that first day of school. You were obligated to find a new classroom every hour, the building was a lot larger, and the older kids looked so much bigger and smarter. Your first driving lesson was another milestone. The excitement about gaining that much freedom was mixed with the nervousness of being watched by the teacher (unless the teacher was your really cool aunt or uncle).
Sometimes, we stay in situations that aren’t good for us, because we’re afraid to do things differently. A bad relationship may seem better than no relationship at all. Untrustworthy friends may seem better than starting over. A work situation that will never get better is more comfortable than the hassle and possible rejection involved in a new job search. Change can be daunting, and sometimes we’re not sure it’s worth it.
We may look for ways to avoid change. For those suffering from addiction, it can become a creative exercise to look for ways to resist or sidestep opportunities to change. “I don’t have time for those meetings.” “I couldn’t find the counselor’s office.” “I just need more time to myself.” “My car wouldn’t start.” As these strategies pile up, loved ones and friends begin to see that the real point of the exercise is to avoid the possibility of change.
Addiction is a disorder that lends itself to a belief: a belief that nothing can help. Unlike the flu, or a pulled muscle, addiction is a disorder that may convince the sufferer that sickness is better than remedy—because the remedy is too scary. This belief is completely untrue, and leads to more suffering, but it is powerful. Spouses, significant others, and friends can help, by supporting the addict’s healthier impulses, and pointing out the untruth of the comfortable belief in hopelessness. Loved ones can make all the difference, if they combine caring with reasonable expectations, encouragement, and limit-setting.
In baseball, a change-up is a pitch that looks like the other pitches, but travels more slowly, throwing off the hitter’s timing. You’d think that a slower pitch would be easier to hit, but it’s usually not, because of that one factor—it looks the same, but it’s different. In recovery, everything else might look the same, in the beginning. We are the change. When we sober up and get our timing back, we can start winning.
Do you know someone who needs to change the patterns of addiction? Could it be you that needs a change, but feels the fear of the unknown? Help is available! Call Sobriety Matters at 713-904-4699, to talk to some real change experts. We are here to support your move into a healthy, happy world of positive change!