Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Relapse is part of the Treatment

I heard this interview on NPR I think where the guy being interviewed was saying that he was an alcoholic. It took him years to recover and it didn't happen until he accepted that relapse is part of the treatment. Maybe it was Diane Rehm or This American Life on podcast. Anyway, the line struck me. What if RELAPSE was a good thing? Or at least not a bad one. What if RELAPSE itself was a necessary part of the journey. What if it's required? It was a comforting thought but I worried it was weak or selfish or indulgent.

I made a mental note to blog on it but promptly dropped the idea. Until I read Brooke Castillo's blog today and then it all slipped together. She wrote:

For a while, your pattern may look like this:

Get the hang of it
See the cool result in your life
Screw it all up completely by checking out
Get the hang of it (again)

This time when I gained weight back it didn't feel like evidence that I suck. But it sure was interesting. This time I was willing to do it again and again and again. Willing to participate in my life instead of, as my friend Jen says, sitting back with a bucket of popcorn and watching the movie that has become my life.

So my relapse is part of my treatment. This isn't weak - because it takes a lot of strength to stay engaged and connected, especially in the face of what could be considered failure. It isn't selfish - because I know I give the best of myself when I take care of myself first. And it sure isn't indulgent because welcoming relapse as a part of the treatment, while more gentle than other approaches, is more likely to bring more positive results.

But most of all relapse just is. It's a part of my journey. A journey on which I am committed to keeping my eyes and my heart open.