King Solomon, the biblical king, was said to be the wisest man in the world. He wrote thousands of proverbs and sayings, and interestingly, many of them, if not most, are as profound today as they were three thousand years ago.
Out of all these sayings, there are two in particular that have been meaningful to people who are either in recovery or who are considering going into rehab.
The first one is “Never underestimate the power of associations.” Are associations really that powerful? In a word, yes.
Think about this saying for a moment. It means associations good and bad. If you leave a treatment program clean, straight, sober, and sane and go back to associating with your same old buddies who are using, you will use. Guaranteed. If you associate with the new community that you meet through AA or NA, and if you go to meetings and stay in touch with your sponsor, you have a great chance of staying clean and sober. In other words, work the program. If you are doing a twelve-step program and you do the steps, you have a great chance. While it is not easy, it is easier than the alternative.
After detox, halfway houses, sober-living houses, meetings, and whatever aftercare you participate in, if you think you have this nailed and return to your old ways, you will return to your old ways. It is impossible to overestimate the great power associations have over us. There are many sayings that have stood the test of time and are repeated through the ages and through the generations that tell us this is true.
For example, “Birds of a feather flock together,” or “Lay down with dogs, get up with fleas,” or “Show me your friends, and I will tell you who you are.” You are hearing the truth. Trust it.
The second saying attributed to this wise old king is “Doubt cannot linger without your consent.” I like this one a lot. We all have doubts that sometimes stop us dead. We all have moments of feeling insecure and doubting ourselves. But if we push through, oftentimes we find we can succeed in spite of our insecurities. This is what you must do: push through. Pay attention to your thought habits and push through.
You will have thoughts/doubts that say maybe you cannot face life without a drink, a drug. Pay attention to your thoughts. Be on guard.
Constant vigilance is required, especially in the first year of recovery. You are to make sure you are selecting the right thoughts. This recovery is your decision. These decisions are about your recovery, your addiction. You are in charge.
We are programmed to want instant gratification. But here in recovery, there is no instant success. This is work. But this is good work. Tell yourself you will do whatever it takes to stay in recovery. Whatever it takes, you will do it. You will do it. There are not a lot of choices here.
Either you stay in a lasting recovery or you will be a junkie.
You will be careful. You will be mindful. You will be aware. Step by step. Step by careful step through this minefield. You will think about how you think. You will acknowledge that not everything you think is true. You will realize there will be triggers. You will tackle them before they tackle you. The trigger can be an odor. A song. A word. A thought. A dream. A person. All these and much more to trick you, to trap you. And even long into recovery, you cannot be cocky that you have recovery nailed. Maybe you might be strolling down a country road with the sun shining, the birds singing, the flowers blooming, and everything is wonderful in your life and you are proud. But then, without warning and out of the blue, a monster jumps out of the bushes. To scare you. To tempt you. To seduce you. No no no no!
Think about this now. Your subconscious and your unconscious are names we have for part of our consciousness. I don’t call it that. I call it the tape recorder. That’s right, the tape recorder. That is what it is, isn’t it? Think about that for a moment. Since the minute you were born, and maybe even while you were in the womb, the tape recorder has been recording. Every scene, every word, every experience. And guess what? Hardly any of the recordings have been made specifically by you. That’s right. Parents, teachers, a movie, a song, something you read or saw. You can pull up a memory from any time in your life. A good memory, a bad memory, all can be revisited. Programming the tape recorder is addressed in chapter 6. It is possible to get information into your mind that you have decided you want there. Isn’t that empowering? So when your play button gets pushed and off you go . . . well, guess what? The tape recorder has a pause button as well!