normalAt some point in the therapeutic recovery process, after sobriety is established and some healing has taken place, I might say to the client, You know, you will never be normal don’t you? They often are confused.  I quickly add, You will be able to be happy and successful, you are just never going to do it the way others do. That calms them down enough to begin the process of understanding.

We often have funny expectations about recovery. As with all expectations, they can get us in trouble. Some are silly enough to think they can return to using on a limited basis like “normal” people do. Some expect that recovery will mean that they will somehow be transformed into a self that never had an addiction. Some expect life with out temptations or those darn urges, that doesn’t happen either.

Sometimes recovery is more about living around our deficiencies than about removing them. Paul spoke of the thorn in his flesh that the Lord chose not to remove. Paul was able to recognize the benefits that came to him because of the thorn (humility, faith and the need to rely on his Father in Heaven), so he not only learned to live around it, he recognized the blessing in it.

Then there are those with the expectation that sobriety is recovery. Sorry, they are not the same. It isn’t unusual to meet people with tens of years of sobriety that have never bothered at all to deal with the healing part of recovery. Unfortunately they are often the ones that really like telling others how to heal. Don’t listen to them.

Carnes language is pretty clear, Once this point is reached [addiction] addicts cannot undo all the damage even with help. Significant shifts have occurred which leave them forever vulnerable to their addiction. Compulsive use always remains an option.

Things have changed for us, significant shifts have occurred. What we call recovery or healing or the mighty change of heart, doesn’t undo all of that. It merely means we have learned to live successfully in spite of it.

Collen Harrison author of He did Deliver me from Bondage once stated that she believed a spiritual awakening was underway within the Church because addicts were healing and coming to Christ. I agree with her assessment. They were coming to the Savior not because they never had an addiction, but in spite of it. When we truly learn to turn our mind and will over to Him for His care and keeping, He makes up for our deficiencies.

It is truly okay that we will not be normal. In fact, many, like Paul rejoice in what they have gained from their struggle. Recovery will reveal itself when you arrive there.  Don’t put any expectations or limitations on it.