Consistency, Accountability & Transparency
These three words accompany anyone who is in recovery whether it’s recovery from alcohol, addiction, codependency or process addictions.
Consistency is about creating success through repetition. A friend of mine in recovery says he learned early on to go to “regular meetings regularly,” It wasn’t about the number of meetings he attended or only attended a meeting “when I really needed a meeting” or “when I was having a bad day.” The success to his recovery came from being consistent and a part of the group.
While I was drinking and using drugs, a girlfriend had commented that I was unpredictable and inconsistent. Internally, I thought that this made me a man of mystery and intrigue. But she made it clear that she didn’t see it the same way. And instead, she saw me as unreliable. Consistency is about conquering our old way of life.
Accountability is about finding a sponsor, mentor and or a therapist and learning how to become vulnerable by sharing your life with them. Creating an atmosphere of connection and community, this relationship helps you heal and keep your ego in check. Almost everyone I know in recovery has “I got this” tattooed on their chest at some point in their recovery and has felt like they really don’t need any help with anything. But this is the real challenge of recovery. Did you know quitting drugs and alcohol is the easy part of recovery; quitting the behavior of the addict, alcoholic and codependent is the real challenge. The hardest part of recovery is asking for help on a consistent basis.
Have you ever wondered why the first half of the first step is the only time drugs and alcohol are mentioned in the 12 steps? The other eleven and a half steps are about addressing the way you live and how you treat people. Find someone you can engage with consistently (at the regular meetings, regularly) and become part of the posse. Recovery from alcohol, drugs and codependency are not self-help programs. They are based on the concept of one person helping another and showing them the path that they have taken successfully.
Transparency is about having everything on the table with nothing hidden in the closet. “You’re only as sick as your secrets” is a statement you will hear a lot in the recovery world. What does this mean? Hiding something that you are ashamed of doesn’t make it go away; it actually makes it bigger and stronger. And believe me when I say that someone else in your posse has dealt with the exact same thing you are dealing with and they will help you get through it if you ask for help.
“The best disinfectant is sunlight” is another one of my favorite sayings from the rooms of recovery. Everyone in recovery has secrets and stuff they are ashamed of, so don’t think that you are the only one in the room trying to put on a good front, everyone in the meeting has something they don’t like to talk about. One of my favorite questions I ask my clients is “What are you not telling me?” It always catches them off guard and sometimes they get a little offended (or a lot) and I calmly tell them that recovery is about being transparent and the best way to get rid of shame is to find someone that you can confide in and talk it out. In the twelve step recovery world, we have a process of taking inventory in the fourth step that can be helpful in sorting out your emotions and feelings around your skeletons, and then we share it with a trusted confidant in the 5th step. There is nothing worse than walking into a meeting or a gathering and feeling like a fraud because one of your skeletons has emerged from the back of the closet.
Let’s be clear, no one is perfect and we all strive to do better each day. This is not about perfection and shaming ourselves for falling short. This is about trying to live a new way of life with a new set of rules. And everyone is fighting the same demons, we are all striving for a better way of life and that means going into the closet and airing out all the skeletons one at a time with the help of others that have been there before you. No one has to walk this path alone.