Safe Spaces

As the world slowly starts to loosen some of the restrictions with stores and public spaces opening, people are worried about safety. It seems that there’s a lot of conflicting information about what our re-entry into the pandemic world should look like. It’s hard for people to feel reassured when the coronavirus is still untamed, still spreading. This state of uncertainty and danger reminds me of what it’s like during early sobriety and/ or while recovering from trauma. Yes, there’s sudden freedom, but it also seems fraught with risks and uncharted territories. The world, with its stressors and triggers everywhere, can appear hostile and perilous. It takes a while for a person in recovery to get used to their surroundings all over again.

I believe that a successful recovery is dependent on safety. This is why rehabilitation centers rely on routines where people can have regular meals, do regular tasks, and attend classes, workshops, and meetings. The predictability of rehab serves to stabilize the fragile psyche (and health) and gives the person in recovery a taste of what life without drugs or alcohol could be like. Of course, rehabs are not a normal life, and the structure is meant to only temporarily relieve clients of having to think of everyday tasks. Being told what to do might seem demeaning and downright offensive, but there’s huge comfort in not having to fight for survival the way most people who enter rehab conducted their days.

The next stage after rehab should focus on ensuring that the person in recovery has all kinds of supports in place. Not connecting with people and services is flying without a net—in recovery, we need to make our net as big as possible so that it can catch us if we start to fall. This is why I advise that family and loved ones remain involved in the process, as well as doctors, therapists, and recovery coaches.

Photo by Yucel Moran on Unsplash

Naturally, a newly recovered person will need a community where they can engage with people struggling with similar issues or connect with people who have been there. This is why 12-step meetings, group therapy, S.M.A.R.T. recovery, and all the other resources are crucial. And as you enter those spaces, remember that you always have a choice to go somewhere else if what you see is troubling. As with any other stage, safety is what matters here. In my own recovery, I’ve had experiences where I didn’t feel welcomed or safe in a group setting. Whether because my beliefs—or lack of—didn’t align with the philosophies presented, or because I was not treated with respect, I knew that I needed to seek something that would suit me and make me feel at home.

Finally, remember that if leaving a group feels like a smarter choice rather than staying in, trust your gut. I mean, talk to someone who has your back first, but don’t be afraid to fight for your safety.  Remember: you’ve won many battles to get where you are, and you deserve to feel free and positive about your choices in recovery.

 

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