Everything Must Change?

by David Hampton |

With Recovery Comes Change

A number of years ago, I hired a personal trainer to help with the revolving door relationship I have with twenty pounds.  Being newly sober, I had given myself permission to find a dopamine hit anywhere I could that didn’t result in a memory lapse or one more horrific consequence I could only half recall.  I determined that gallons of my favorite ice cream, which seemed to call out to me from the frozen food aisles, promised to sooth the vacuous hole in my psyche left by the absence of alcohol.

The trainer was not hired to be my best friend, my ego booster, my excuse maker, or my guru. He was hired to kick my ass far beyond what I was willing to do on my own or thought myself capable of.

Like every seasoned leader in a well-rehearsed program he had a number of catchy phrases and quips that he used to snap at me as I’d groan and come in and out of consciousness. “Pain is just weakness leaving the body!” he barked.

I countered that with, “No! I’m pretty sure that pain is the result of my dislocated shoulders after those last two military presses!”

“If you want what we have, you’ll do what we do!” was another one.

Okay, I thought, maybe I’ll settle for half the abs at half the price. Nothing really wrong with a well toned three-pack, is there?

“C’mon! How badly do you want it?” he’d bellow.

“Not half as much as I’d like to kick your …” As if that would have even been an option.

Sometimes It Takes An Outside Influence, Like A Personal Trainer, To Inspire ChangeI eventually reached my goal weight, but not without a major falling out. I realized that the truth was I liked the idea of accountability a lot more than I liked accountability itself. I wanted someone who was willing to work harder at my program than I was but not be rude enough to point that out. I wanted to redefine normal in my life without experiencing the temporary disruptions that come with long-term change.
 When we find ourselves in situations where we have to redefine normal, it will always feel like suffering. It will be the emotional and spiritual equivalent of a barking trainer pushing us beyond anything we ever thought we could endure. We might even be tempted to lay blame, retaliate, and rebuff the very people we’ve enlisted to help us. Recovery is certainly no different. Our addiction to ritual and routine is as strong as our relationship to the substances or the compulsive behavior itself.

Whatever renewal is, it rarely happens in a business as usual paradigm. My experience leads me to believe it comes with challenges, with surrendering old habits and ways of thinking, and submitting to the renewing of our minds. It seems we must have defining moments as individuals where we ask ourselves, “Am I willing to risk practicing what I see others doing in order to experience the freedom I see others enjoying?” This is the beginning of our new path to freedom, but everything must change.

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