"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure." -Colin Powell
I recently wrote about the pending flood which could have impacted my home. I used the flood as a metaphor for my recovery, stating that preparing for the rise of the waters around my home as a symbol of using our tools to ward off lapse or relapse. I discussed how I had help placing sandbags around my home and moving things out to prevent damage. I was sure that my home was safe.
I was wrong.
All the preparation could not prevent the flood water from seeping in and damaging my home. That has caused me to reflect a bit on my own recovery and my struggles with addiction. Is it possible that even with all the tools of recovery, I could experience lapse or relapse?
The answer, “Well duh!?!”
Toward the end of my stay in treatment, I was warned that relapse or lapse is a part of everyone’s recovery journey. I denied that possibility adamantly. There was no way that I was going to return to my addiction! After all, I had 90 plus days of treatment! In a few weeks after my return home, I had relapsed.
They were right.
As I walk through my home, studs exposed because the dry wall, paneling, and insulation has been removed, I can not help but see the similarities. Left unaddressed (and covered up), the internal damage of this flooding is deadly. Creeping black mold which could slowly infect my lungs and cause disease to take root. Exposing the studs to the open air, setting up dehumidifiers, and fans to dry things out, and treating the area with chemicals which kill mold will ensure that being in my home will not kill me.
When we experience lapse or relapse, we initiate the same process when we move back into the values that are associated with a recovered life - honesty, humility, amends and service. We need to get current and expose the specific way we acted out. We must open our lives to be restored through sharing, honesty, gentleness, and surrender. We must realize that we have failed while we take comfort in understanding we are not failures. A lapse or relapse provides us with the opportunity to start over and make better choices.
Something we cannot do that until we are willing to admit we fell short.