5 Reasons Recovery is Not Fair & 3 Things You Can Do About It
During the past ten years, I have been on a recovery journey full of miracles and pain which surpassed my greatest imagination.
And over the past three years, I have worked with many survivors of trauma who are taking their own trek to find a better way of living. I have learned many lessons about life from my own journey and the journeys of others. But there is one life lesson that rises to the top.
It’s not fair!
That may sound like the ranting of a two-year-old, but it’s also true. There is nothing particularly fair about this life. And when it comes to a childhood of trauma, it is the most unfair. What do I mean? I thought you would never ask. I’ve been creating a list just to prove my point.
- We have to treat our inner parts like nobody ever treated us. You may have heard of the term “re-parenting” during your recovery journey. It may have even triggered you. How dare anyone suggest that you have to do the job your parents never did. It isn’t fair that we have to be compassionate, accepting and loving to our inner parts when we never experienced it. How are we supposed to do that? How do we express love we never had? Where do we start?
- There was nobody to save us in childhood and there is nobody to save us now. Despite our deep longing for a savior, human beings are not capable of saving another. They may be able to do it for a while, but it is not sustainable. It is not sustainable because it is a lie. Our only path forward is to recognize the power within us, the fact that we are meant to save ourselves. How do we recognize a power we lost so many years ago at the hands of abusers? How do we find it again?
- We have to trust to heal, but we rarely knew anyone we could trust. After years of relational abuse, the idea of trusting others is absurd. It is also highly unlikely to be fruitful in the early years of recovery. We are still holding too much inner turmoil to attract trustworthy people. But after some time in recovery, we have to dip our toe in the deep, scary waters of trust. How are we supposed to trust after years and years of abuse, manipulation and victimization? How do we allow it?
- We have to experience the same cycle of pain in adulthood until we heal. When it comes to healing, we can ignore it all we want. But it isn’t going anywhere. We will spend a lifetime in the patterns of our childhood until we recognize we have healing to do. I affectionately refer to these patterns as baseball bats from the universe. And they hit harder as we ignore them. But when our trauma is unconscious, it feels like we are being victimized over and over with no explanation. How do we see what we have trained ourselves not to see?
- We were abused in isolation and we must heal in isolation. Recovery is a lonely experience. It is rare that we find others in recovery. If we do, they may or may not be prepared to take their recovery as deep as we are willing to go. And the people who prefer our pre-recovery self are almost never safe as we explore healing. Not to mention, society has very little patience for expressing emotions and truth. This leads to invalidating experiences at every turn. It can become necessary to go it alone if we want to avoid triggering invalidation from others. Once we become grounded in our new truth and have built positive relationships with our inner parts, we can start attracting healthy and validating people in to our lives, but it seems like too little too late. Why can’t we have validation when we need it most? Why can’t we feel less isolated in recovery?
I know I have made my case by now. Trauma and its recovery is an unfair experience. I am sharing this not because I want pity for me and others on this journey. I am sharing this to validate the experiences of other survivors who are tired, exhausted of tackling the seemingly impossible. I am sharing this to let other survivors know that I get it. And while I can’t make it fairer, I can let you know there are things you can do about this intensely unfair process.
- You can have compassion for yourself as you trudge along this lonely process with no experience. You are going to screw it up. You are going to feel like crap. You are going to forget what you have learned on a cognitive level when you are inundated with emotion. That is okay. I know what you’re thinking. “But I never learned compassion.” So make sure to have compassion about your lack of compassion too.
- You can try to understand that you are not in charge of this process. It is true. You aren’t. You cannot figure out how to re-parent yourself on a cognitive level because you never learned it on a cognitive level. But your higher self knows how to do these things. Do your best to know that you will be helped along the way by something much deeper than your logic.
- Find any validation you can. It isn’t going to look perfect. Your family is not going to knock on your door and tell you they are sorry (probably). Your unhealed friends aren’t coming over to let you cry on their shoulder. But validation is out there. Read books by people who have done it. Join virtual and in-person groups who get your struggles. Find coaches and therapists who validate your journey. It won’t be perfect, but you can find it.
Take it from me, I know how unfair this process is. I know this is a brutal journey that seems like an insurmountable mountain to climb. But there are others who get it. Do what you can to find your validation and own your truth. It may be unfair, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Written By Elisabeth Corey, MSW
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