It’s question that each and every one of us asks ourselves at some point during our recovery: “Am I done healing yet?” If we don’t use those exact words, we use some variation of them. The inclination to place deadlines on the recovery process is natural; after all, we like to believe that there is an end to all difficult and challenging situations. Unfortunately it’s not very helpful, and can even be a little dangerous. These deadlines are fundamentally incompatible with the lifelong nature of the recovery process, and if we view our journeys as something with an end, we are setting ourselves up for frequent and potentially profound disappointment.
There’s a very good reason why we’re urged to live “one day at a time” in recovery: each day has its own challenges and obstacles. Over time, we get stronger and more at-home on our recovery paths, but we never really finish. If we stay focused and follow our plans, we will put active substance abuse, and the lives we were living as a result of it, far in our rearview; but it doesn’t help to envision a time in which we can once again “casually” use drugs or alcohol. Recovery means living it every day, and remembering what brought us to this point in our lives.
However, just as each day presents its own challenges, it also presents its own opportunity to learn, grown and triumph. As we get incrementally stronger and start to embrace more of life’s challenges and rewards, we’ll be able to experience our growth and palpably measure our progress. As enough time passes, we’ll realize that “this” is what successful recovery looks like and we’ll shed the need to envision a “cure” or an “end” because we’re living these concepts on a daily basis. Recovery allows us to reap the same rewards as those who live outside of the community—there’s no need to place added pressures on ourselves with deadlines. We’ll get there.