Consequences are a big theme in the early days of recovery. In my experience, it is some type of consequence that leads you to realize you need help. If you are lucky, you realize that recovery is an option when the consequences are of a lesser degree: embarrassment over addictive behavior and actions, regret of the pain caused to loved ones. But the longer your addictive behavior goes on, the more dire the consequences become: legal issues, loss of loved ones, and, if the addiction goes on long enough, the ultimate consequence: the loss of your life.
As time passes, dealing with the consequences of your past behavior gets trickier. At first, the chaos that is life is so overwhelming, that the only way to go through each day is to take what is directly in front of you and deal with it the best way you can, while still doing the fundamental steps of recovery, most importantly, not picking up a drink or drug. As time passes, it truly does get easier to get through each day. Confidence grows with each hurdle you overcome, and soon the most important step… not picking up… actually becomes the norm, and does not have to rent so much space in your head.
That is when the consequence issue becomes a little more challenging. On the one hand, you feel so much better, so much stronger, and you are having a much easier time of living in the present, rather than submerging yourself in the regret of past mistakes. However, living in the present requires living with people who do not have the benefit of recovery as you do, and the past is not so easily forgotten for them. I believe I have touched upon this subject in an earlier post. How to reconcile your new way of thinking with their old one? When is it okay to say that the rules of the new game should be modified to meet the new thought processes?
And there is another side to consequences… the butterfly effect. Certainly my past mistakes have heaped consequences on my head that I must face, and I am doing that each day. But I find an interesting twist comes about with the people around me: it appears, from my perspective, that people often allow my actions to justify their behavior, and it seems paradoxical to me. If I have to accept the consequences of my actions, why aren’t the people around me held to the same standard?
It is at this point that the power of the Program comes into play (a little alliteration to fancy up the post). Because it is not my responsibility, nor my right, to judge the behavior, the decisions, or the actions of people around me. There is only one person’s actions I can control, and since that seems to have been a difficult enough task, I better just work on me. If I can’t learn to accept people around me for exactly who they are, then my recovery is in jeopardy… it is simply that important. Learning true, honest tolerance for everyone and everything in my life, is ultimately the consequence that will have the most profoundly positive influence on my life, and I hope to improve that skill each day.