Sunday, February 07, 2010

Reading and Books

I’ve been asked about all the reading and self-help books. This is a perfect “out of the woods” topic. After many years of recovery I still depend on sources far outside the “conference approved literature”. In fact I owe my recovery to a self-help book: “Women Who Love Too Much” by Robin Norwood.

That book was so singularly important to opening my eyes to my addictions and to the ways I was a captive of childhood beliefs that I use this shorthand for the title: “WWL2M”. That book, ostensibly about relationships and codependence, also contained this challenge: “If you find yourself connecting to the ideas in this book you may also have a problem with alcohol, drugs, food or other substance addictions.” Robin Norwood gave the 800 numbers for all the anonymous groups. In those days I qualified for many of them. And I called.

I still keep my first copy of WWL2M in a place of honor with all of my AA literature.

But there is more to the question about reading in recovery and self-help books. Many years ago a very smart therapist helped me understand reading this way: some of us need to sneak up on ourselves to make major changes. We may need to go into difficult places and may need to swim in some troubling emotional waves as healing begins. When we read about these things first we are building a “cognitive life raft”, our intellectual base on which to safely enter the emotional waters that lead to growth.

So yes, books—lots and lots of books, and lots and lots of reading as part of a joyous and continual recovery.

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