Men’s Issues: Ch-ch-changes

dealing with change in recovery

Table of Contents

At Jaywalker Lodge, we deal exclusively with helping men find recovery from alcoholism and addiction. We specialize in helping those who have had difficulty achieving or maintaining recovery. We were like that ourselves, and it is a great joy to share the things that helped us overcome our chronic relapse and find lasting recovery. In the course of doing just that, we see men struggle with a variety of issues. These range from mental and emotional health issues to trauma, spiritual crises, and even things like societal pressures. Over time, we have begun to see such troublesome issues arise enough to be considered common.

Though we each have a unique life experience, there is much that unites us in commonality. Just as we share the disease of alcoholism and addiction, and we also share in the solution to that problem —  the 12-Steps of recovery. There are other problems and solutions that many of us share as well. This is why we talk about men’s issues. This time, we are exploring how we cope with the often momentous changes that accompany not only a new life in recovery but life in general.

Why Do Things Have To Change?

Change is often axiomatically considered to be the only universal constant. The thing that never changes is that everything changes. We like things a certain way, and we get used to things being how they are. But then they change, and this often requires us to change as well, which presents its own unique set of difficulties.

As humans, we all have preferences and opinions on how things should be. But there is no rule that says life must obey our preferences. Life ebbs and flows and changes as it will, or as our higher power wills it so. We can experience and express our emotions when things change, but to live in resistance or refusal to change is to live in resistance to life.

The necessity and beauty of change are often the easiest to see in nature. When a forest grows up, it is beautiful. It lasts for many years. Then the trees burn or decay, uprooting many creatures who used the abundant forest as their home. This decay feeds the ground for new growth. Years later, a newer, bigger, better forest grows up, supporting even more animals. And the cycle repeats, over and over. Change is one of the engines of life. Without change, things would become stagnant, overgrown, and self-destructive. No fish live in stagnant ponds. That’s why fish tanks have filters —  to keep changing the water.

Yet this scientific explanation for the value of change doesn’t really make it easier to deal with when our comfort zones or favorite things change. Why is that?

The Problem With Change

For most of us alcoholics and addicts, the philosophical truth that change is the only constant is hard to adjust to and even harder to accept. It lives behind much of our difficulties and perhaps some of our traumas as well. Wishing that things never changed and being unable to accept when they do often leads us into depression, nostalgia, and regret. It can leave us stuck in deep ruts from which we cannot pull ourselves out alone. To resist change is much like trying to will the sun to stop rising. We can’t make it happen —  and if we’re hanging our happiness on it, we’re going to make things unnecessarily rough for ourselves.

Disliking change is part of human nature. We are wired to find stable sources of food, shelter, companionship, security, and positive emotion. When any of these things change even slightly, we get anxious that we’ll lose our source. This can be a major problem for anyone, but especially for alcoholics and addicts. Thankfully, it’s an issue that the 12-Step program addresses very thoroughly and specifically. The 12-Steps guide us toward depending on our higher power as the source of all we need to live joyous and free lives. We are led away from depending on people and things as our sources for security and constancy. Simply put, no people or things will ever not change.

Because of the emotional difficulty attached to change before we learn to accept it, the 12-Step program of recovery suggests we stop setting this trap for ourselves by learning to trust and connect to our higher power and to root ourselves firmly in spiritual ideals. As we focus more on our inner spiritual journey, we may find that our spiritual path changes. Even we may change, yet the spiritual ideals written in the book Alcoholics Anonymous and practiced in the 12-Steps do not change. They remain steadfast guiding lights to help us navigate the beautiful changes of life.

Accepting Change

We will never stop being human or having thoughts, emotional responses, opinions, and reactions. And we will never stop change, but it isn’t unrealistic to think that someday we can feel peace and acceptance whenever we encounter it. Whatever our higher power is, we can practice our connection with it as the 12-Step program suggests. This provides routine and the bolstering constancy of being close to something beyond the ever-changing world and bigger than our ever-changing selves.

The next best bet is to practice prayer and meditation. These activities are not one and the same. We can pray. We can meditate. We can combine them or do them one at a time. The only wrong move is to not do them. As we strengthen our prayer and meditation routines, we will find a reservoir of peace and clear perspective that comes at the times we need it most.

Change is unavoidable, but suffering because things change is optional.

Alcoholism and addiction are complex and devastating diseases. Often those who suffer from the disease become stuck in self-destructive patterns and routines. Some may find themselves being left behind by life, so trapped in the prison of their disease that they can do little to grow and experience life like normal people. However, there is a solution to this all-consuming disease, and it really works. It can change lives, as long as we are willing to have our lives changed. The 12-Step program of spiritual action asks nothing extreme of those who seek a solution to alcoholism and addiction, especially when you consider how dominating the disease is. Through spiritual work and action with an altruistic community of those who are recovering, people can find recovery for themselves and live the free, joyous lives they deserve. If you are willing, we are ready to help you. Call Jaywalker Lodge now at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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