When we think of trust, we often think of relationships. What we don’t always think of is what it means for you to trust you.
There is enormous strength in being able to trust yourself.
When most of us first enter recovery from drugs and/or alcohol, we have a difficult time trusting ourselves-- for good reason. Prior to a sober lifestyle, many of us made poor choices over and over and over again. We lost the trust of our loved ones, employers, and friends. We also lost trust for ourselves.
How many times did we promise ourselves that we wouldn’t drink or use again, that this time would be different? How many times did we wake up in the morning and promise ourselves that last night was the last time?
When we enter early recovery, many of us are afraid to trust ourselves again. We rely on professionals, spiritual guides, sponsors, psychologists, and trusted others. This is in fact, one of the greatest benefits to working a 12-step recovery program: having a mentor often referred to as a Sponsor.
What is a Sponsor?
A Sponsor is someone who guides us through the process of sobriety and recovery. When someone is new to recovery, it is often recommended that they find a Sponsor. This, in part, is because individuals in early recovery may struggle with making healthy decisions. A sponsor is a tour guide in new territory, navigating a newcomer through uncharted land, helping them to avoid potholes and roadblocks.
At some point in recovery, we begin to gain some of our judgment back.
It’s different for everyone: there is no one-size fits all timeline.
Someone may begin to gain some judgment back after a year, another person after five years. The point is, eventually we begin to gain back some of our trust for ourselves. We begin to trust our decisions and ourselves more.
This isn’t to say that we don’t need a Sponsor anymore, because it’s always helpful to have someone to bounce ideas off of. It may also be necessary for someone to stay accountable throughout his or her entire recovery.
What I mean is that we begin to know and understand ourselves a tiny bit better. We might even begin to trust our gut when making decisions. You know that feeling that pops up when you feel threatened or in danger. That gut feeling that you have that tells you “this is a bad idea.”
It’s a magical thing when we gain our own trust back. It often leads to increased self-esteem, stronger relationships, and a sense of serenity and peace. We believe in our abilities and ourselves. Trust yields hope. When we are struggling, we begin to trust that the pain won’t last forever.
Trusting ourselves doesn’t mean believing that we are perfect or that we never make mistakes. It means,
Believing that we are worthy and loved even when we do make mistakes.
It also means trusting that everything will work out in the end. This perhaps, can be the most difficult principle to swallow for individuals in recovery. In active addiction, life is chaotic, messy, and full of self-destruction. Everything isn’t okay.
Yet, slowly, day-by-day, things begin to be okay.
We are okay.