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Change is a Friend: Learning to Embrace Transitions in Recovery

As a child, I disliked change.

As a teenager, I really disliked change.

As an adult, I have learned to embrace it.

(Actually, in the interest of full disclosure, I still avoid it at all costs.)

I am a creature of habit. Cheerios, the all-important snack of my babyhood, are still my favorite cereal. I never deviate from my tried-and-true Pilot G-2 07 pens. I willfully choose to watch Judge Judy because it reminds me of home.

Just as I nearly always drink my coffee black, I nearly always shun the notion of anything new and potentially terrifying (and by terrifying I mean even something completely routine) entering my life.

It all started when my parents traded in our family’s—and my beloved—minivan. I was four and inconsolable.

“But what happened to it?” I sobbed as my mom picked me up from preschool in our shiny new SUV.

“It was time for it to go,” she told me, matter-of-fact. She had known better than to warn me in advance; my attachment to that boat of a vehicle could not be reasoned with or explained.

Each time I encountered change, I remained stubborn and unwilling to accept it. I would not learn to tie my shoes; I would not learn to ride a bike; I would not learn to swim; I would not learn to drive.

And my mom—who would not indulge a single inkling of this nonsense—would croon her eternal reminder.

There are certain things we don’t want to do in life, Kate. But we have to do them anyways.

Of course I did learn to ride a bike. And to drive. And to swim. And to tie my shoes.

But there was a time when I had convinced myself that I was incapable of doing any of those things.

Because change is scary. And in most cases, it does not present itself as a friend.

In fact, it more often presents itself as an enemy. A barrier. A storm.

We retreat to our comfort zones because they are comfortable. They are the proverbial bowl of Cheerios. They are the pieces of our lives that we cling to in the hopes that difficulty will not find us. They are our safe spaces; they are our second homes.

Through the process of recovery, change is a consistent motif. It is a pattern that we recognize; it is a picture that we paint. As we heal, not only do our lives begin to transform, but our futures in sobriety, as well. Life brightens as a direct result of the emotional, mental, and physical transformations taking place.

The intensity of these transitions can be overwhelming, though they are worthy of our attention and acceptance. While their exterior presence may be fearsome, they serve a larger purpose. They serve to create strength of character. They serve to teach lessons of empathy. They serve to bridge the gap between uncertainty and accomplishment.

Motivational speaker and author Bob Goff wrote, “Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.”

In a world of unknowns, the realest certainty is change. Transitions will continue to shape our lives, as we could not heal without them. Better days, as Goff noted, will reveal themselves in time. They will be born from change.

As change occurs, it responds well to perception. It responds well to openness. It responds well to hope.

It even responds well to fear, as it recognizes the strength that lies beneath it—the strength that lies within us all.

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