by Michael Lewis
What does being fearless in recovery mean to me?
It means not walking away before you get a chance to know who you are.
In my life, I’ve had traumatic experiences that ultimately resulted in an eight year run with addiction among other diagnoses. At one point in my life, I identified as an addict to such an extent that I thought I’d never be anything else.
It wasn’t until I decided to give myself a chance to get to know myself outside of my shame that I discovered something I thought was long lost, and to some degree, nonexistent.
I discovered a person that doesn’t believe this world is just some purgatorial dimension where I’m supposed to drown in misery for all eternity. I discovered a person who could once again look up at the stars and see the light shining through the darkness, illuminating the path I once thought to be a desolate road. My journey allowed me to see where my heart truly lies.
In the time of the Tang dynasty a Chinese philosopher and teacher named Confucius said, “If you look into your own heart, and you find nothing wrong there, what is there to worry about? What is there to fear?” I believe this quote to mean that a good heart lies within every person, and once you get to know your heart there will be NOTHING left to fear.
It’s fairly common for people in recovery to accept the labels of their life struggles as their identity. I’ve learned in my own recovery process, and now being a therapist myself, that we’re not defined by our diagnoses or symptoms. Both could very well be a big part of who you are, but we don’t walk around saying, “Hi! I’m addicted and mentally ill Mike, nice to meet you!”
If anything it would be more like, “Hi I’m Mike and I’ve struggled with addiction, trauma, and depression. I know what it’s like to walk the unseen path. How can I be there to help?”
A psychologist by the name of Erik Erikson once said, “The more you know yourself, the more patience you have for what you see in others.” To have patience for others is to have compassion, and to have compassion, is to be enlightened, and to be enlightened is to be unwrapped from a shroud of fear and darkness.
This is what being fearless in recovery means to me.