Principles of Recovery
The fourth Principle of Responsibility is to stop hiding from ourselves. There can be no recovery when we continue to isolate ourselves and our feelings from the outside world. In addiction, we used our emotions to protect us from reality. We guarded our delusions with anger. We masked our pain with fear. We obscured our difficult choices with shame. We blurred our send of self with sorrow. In recovery, we take responsibility for our decisions and our actions. We somberly realize our past does not let us off the hook. We are now ready to truthfully examine our life.
In step four we make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Self-examination becomes our ongoing commitment to recovery. We now accept reality; surrender to what is real, no matter how inconvenient. In essence, we are taking responsibility for our own lives without masking the fear, pain, and sadness. Instead, we look back and realize things don't always turn out precisely the way we thought they would. We now gently replace fear, pain, and sadness with our hopes, dream, and intentions.
Responsibility is about asking the question, "Who Am I." During addiction, we wove a tapestry of frightening threads: denial, avoidance, justification, and irresponsibility. In recovery, we examine our life and weave a new tapestry of eclectic threads of joy, sorrow, loss, achievement, friendship, love, disappointment, loyalty, and betrayal. This new tapestry - one of hope, health, sanity, and serenity becomes our security blanket. We do not gloss over anything as we examine our feelings and actions only to discover what part we may have played in all this. We no longer expect everything in our lives to turn out the way we thought it should. Instead, we follow the principles of acceptance, awareness, spirituality, and now responsibility.
Experiencing recovery is like learning a new language. In the beginning, we think about each sentence and mentally translate every word. As you become more fluent, some phrases become natural and eventually mental translation is replaced with processing in the new language. This is similar to psychotherapy. In therapy, we examine our life with a therapist. In the early stages, we examine during the session and wait until the next session to examine more. Eventually, we realize our greatest growth comes from self-examination outside the therapist's office between sessions. Over time, this self -examination becomes automatic. Once we become aware of what we are feeling, we can do something about it, instead of staying addicted to our past, thinking we can control our emotions with alcohol, drugs, sex, food, or gambling.