Earlier in the week I posted the stages of recovery as described by clinical psychologist Kathleen O’Connell. She has been writing about recovery since the 1980’s and her book, “Bruised By Life” made an important contribution to the field of addiction studies.
In her book, which is subtitled, “Turning Life’s Wounds Into Gifts”, O’Connell breaks down each stage of recovery and gives specific examples of the kind of changes that happen in each stage and she gives stories showing how the stages also blend and glide into each other.
What I love about her book is that she writes about recovery from the belief that it is addiction that is the problem not a specific substance or behavior—so the book is helpful to all of us whether our issue is food, alcohol, cocaine, sexual behaviors etc. And because her focus is on the healing and transformation.
Clearly, the book is for those who understand that they have an addiction and who want a road map of the route to turning their wounds into gifts. That is not typically a beginner’s perspective. And, truth be told, it’s not a “pink cloud” perspective either. Consider this from O’Connell’s description of her Stage Two:
“In the second year of healing, some people experience emotional crises. Old feelings from childhood surface: without the old behaviors (addictions) to suppress them, these feelings are free to emerge. People healing from any self-destructive behaviors can experience these new found intense feelings.”
Do you remember that stage? Just when you thought, “Well look at wonderful me I don’t drink (abuse food, money, men, myself) any more”, the feelings start to hit hard.
O’Connell reassures us that this is typical, normal and while also hard, it’s a sign of growth and positive recovery. She’s a coach, cheerleader and oh so practical. O’Connell spent years in her own chemical addiction so she knows this process as a professional and as a participant.
I’ll share more from her in the weeks to come.