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It Isn’t Real Recovery without Major Learning


I read a novel peripherally involving AA and came across a passage which explains the importance of learning what is necessary in any kind of recovery. Here’s the excerpt talking about someone’s struggles with the Twelve-Step Program. 

“I’m not sure she’d actually reached Step Nine. I don’t think she’d done all the steps leading up to it.”

“Does it matter? Do you have to do them in order?”

“You don’t have to do anything, but it sure helps. What would happen if you took first year university then skipped to the final year?”

“You’d probably fail.”


You see where this is going, don’t you? Recovery just doesn’t happen. It evolves by learning one thing after another in order. Have you accepted this truth yet or are you still trying to claw your way to a healthy relationship with food without bothering to be emotionally healthier along the way? That’s what I (sadly) see some clients trying to do. 

There’s no magic to it, but there are building blocks to recovery. Honest self-reflection is one that dysregulated eaters are pretty good at. They love to dissect their flaws but they lack self-compassion because they confuse self-kindness with letting oneself off the hook. Another is patience which doesn’t come easily to most of us but must be learned in order to keep plodding along when it seems as if someone is moving the goalposts farther and farther away. If you don’t have self-trust you’ll keep looking to others for guidance and approval and that will keep you stuck. If you think it’s selfish to engage in self-care, you’ll never do it or enough of it.

Whatever our unhealthy habit, we all have to make major changes in our personalities and behaviors to rid ourselves of them. That is, recovery is about much more than stopping drinking or drugging, stopping emotional eating, or giving up a gambling or pornography addiction. It’s about learning what it takes to be emotionally and physically healthy. 

Sure, you can learn these things in a helter skelter fashion, but why not focus on and practice them, specifically in an ordered way. That’s why I write books. That’s why AA  has a 12-step program. You can’t escape what’s needed. And you can’t expect to recover unless you do what you need to do that all who’ve recovered before you have done.