Question 10: “Have you evaluated your level of commitment?”
I’ve got a great video of my daughter first learning to crawl. As she rocks back and forth my voice comes over the video feed and I say, “Come on Emily, you’ve gotta want it!” To this day my wife jokes with me about that comment.
It’ true: You’ve got to want to recover. Guys who show up to meetings to get their wife off their back do not stay sober and they do not recover. You have got to want sobriety and recovery for yourself. The road to recovery is too long and hard for any other purpose than self-healing.
On those dark, daunting days when your feelings betray you and you fall into the Addiction Cycle you will be tempted to give up and you’ll need to evaluate your level of commitment to your recovery program. In sports they call this “gut-check time”; do you have what it takes to ‘win’ and stay with your program?
Chances are you do, but it won’t seem like it when you first fall into the Addiction Cycle. Instead you will probably feel ashamed to be back there again, you’ll be tired of working your program, and your brain will be a tangled mess of neurochemicals and emotions. Instead of relying on your feelings in that moment you need to think about your long-term commitment.
Though this Question may seem to hint at shades of gray and multiple-choice, it could really be rephrased as a yes-or-no Question: “Are you committed to staying sober?” The answer for addictive and compulsive users of any substance not in a formal recovery program is “no”. Sorry. If you were committed you’d be in a program.
There are some folks who attend recovery group meetings who have not yet begun the recovery process; they still act out on a regular basis. Believe it or not, these folks are psychologically healthier than the people from the previous paragraph, though their answer to the Question is also “no”.
Then we come to the men and women in recovery programs for reasons other than their own: “My wife said I had to go or she’d divorce me”; “My boss said if I don’t go he’ll fire me”; “I want to get my parents off my case.” If you ask these people, “Are you committed to staying sober,” they would probably respond, “Yes, of course, I go to meetings don’t I?”
OK then, what is your level of commitment? Will you keep coming to meetings after your wife divorces you? What about if you get fired; will we still see you every week? What if your life becomes like that of the biblical character Job: Your family leaves you, you lose your job and all your possessions, you get sick, and your friends abandon you. Now what? Are you still going to come to next week’s meeting?
Folks, this is what we mean by “evaluate your level of commitment.” You have got to be all-in, every day, for the rest of your life. The good news is that you only have to do that one day at a time. But there is no middle-ground when it comes to addiction. When the stuff hits the fan and the Addiction Cycle has you by the jugular, you have got to look deep inside yourself and ask, “Just how committed am I to this process?”
The process of asking this Question is just as critical as your answer to it. Asking this Question will get you to focus on the most important thing in your life: your recovery. Without recovery you will eventually lose your family, your job, your health, and your friends. You will find that as you ponder your commitment, that commitment will grow.
Today’s Challenge: Right now, whether you are in a recovery program or just trying to live healthier, I want you to stop and ask yourself this question: What is my level of commitment?