Social worker and researcher Brené Brown explains, “Shame cannot survive being spoken. It cannot survive empathy.” We all experience shame, and those experiences can lead to relapse unless we are willing to speak our truths and reach out for help.
St. John of the Cross explored the idea of reawakening ourselves through a type of death to our former selves and behaviors. This death of our former selves is often referred to as a “dark night of the soul.” As you continue in recovery, you will find yourself facing many nights of struggle where you have to take your life moment by moment. These moments of struggle require you to reach out for support. Whether your help comes from your sponsor or your Higher Power, the important thing to remember is you do not have to struggle alone.
Where Does the Struggle Originate?
Do not cling to your past. In these moments of struggle, emotions run hot, and you may be struggling with how to cope with decisions you’ve made and realizing you are not the person you wanted to be. Sharing your fallibility with another or speaking aloud about your struggle enables you to face your problems and overcome them.
As you proceed in recovery, the nights of struggle often come as you work through your past and admit your faults. This process results in change, but every change brings with it pain. You are slowly becoming the person you want to be, which takes an honest assessment of who you used to be.
Reaching Out for Help
Disclosure of your past provides connectedness to others. You may hold incredible shame and frustration over your decisions. Sometimes, when you are faced with these dark nights, it can be easy to turn to alcohol and/or other substances to relieve your suffering. Relapse only increases your shame and self-doubt, leading to further isolation.
You need help, especially in times of struggle. No one on earth is as good as they want to be. All have made mistakes and experience shame about their lack of ability to struggle well and overcome. The only way to begin to move forward and build your strength of character and willpower is to speak. Speak and take inventory so you might have accountability and feedback as to how you can improve. Also, talking aloud about your struggles will open others up to share their struggles, and you will learn you are not alone.
How Does Silence Affect Recovery
Silence is often a result of deep-rooted shame. Struggling often leads to silence and a lack of resilience. Shame pushes you into silence, which isolates you and can lead to relapse. Ken Falke and Josh Goldberg explain in their book, Struggle Well: Thriving in the Aftermath of Trauma, “shame can stop you in your tracks and prevent you from achieving the freedom, balance, and peace that you deserve and desire.” Freedom comes when you speak your truths and find connectedness and forgiveness, knowing you are not alone.
As you proceed in recovery, part of the 12 Steps is to inventory past wrongs and make amends. In the act of these two steps, you are giving voice to your shame and eliminating shame’s power over your life. By removing the power of shame and beginning to re-establish yourself as the master of your decisions, you will discover increased willpower and a previously unknown resilience. However, resilience comes only from facing your truths.
The Power of Speaking Your Truth to Others
Helping others avoid pain is an element of humanity unable to be eradicated by even your worst decisions. While we are fallible and have made bad decisions, causing others pain, we recognize in our sobriety how we never intended to wrong others. Helping others overcome suffering is endemic to our humanity and can be achieved by sharing our stories and willingly accepting others despite their failings. We have experienced suffering from isolating ourselves. We do not have to isolate and create pain for others. We all experience dark nights of suffering and need others to help us avoid making harmful decisions. Relapse comes most often when we isolate and are unwilling to face the truth of our shame.
Connectedness with others and with our Higher Power is the only way to avoid relapse when we are struggling. Asking for help is not a failure but an incredible strength. It is also a recognition of our inability to help ourselves. We are only as strong as those with whom we surround ourselves and our Higher Power.
Remember, your strength of willpower is critical, but there are times when you need assistance, and asking for help and speaking aloud your struggle to another is stronger and more helpful than living in the silence of shame.
Asking for help in times of struggle is critical to your recovery. Whether you are asking for the help of a professional, friend, your sponsor, or your Higher Power, getting through those nights of struggle is easier when you ask for help. At Renaissance Ranch, we believe in the value of connectedness and social support. We provide support for every step of the process for recovery. We offer help in the beginning stages with detox treatment and in your return to life after treatment through a sober living home and our network of alumni, known as the Band of Brothers. We know the value of having support during those days of struggle. We offer clinically driven and gospel-centered treatment to help you cope with strong emotions. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to alcohol and/or other substances, healing is available. Reach out to us at Renaissance Ranch by calling (801) 308-8898. We are here to help.