Recovery 101

Recovery doesn’t start until you are engaged in daily self-care. In the beautiful model of the 12-step tradition, those recovering aren’t at step 12, helping others through the hope they found, when they haven’t even stopped drinking or completed step 1.

You aren’t ‘in recovery’ even if you are seeing a therapist, or in our Living Recovery online course, or have read all the books and are telling others about PLRs (Pathological Love Relationships). That isn’t recovery. Recovery is action.

You are engaged in recovery when you are putting your recovery needs first, each day. When you have a recovery program or agenda that is worked, covering the basics of self-care. It is hard to be a true mouth-piece about pathology education when you can’t get out of bed, are still having regular (non-custody) contact, or are dialing friends on the hour going into the latest du jour antics of the pathological.

Recovery begins with a consistent duty to self-care. A recovery day, even though you may have a job, is still focused on caring enough for yourself that it is aiding your recovery on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. What must be your first priority is what you need to get through the day in order to operate at the highest level you can. And that comes from having a plan, and working the plan. It may not include partying with friends, spending hours on social media, lying in bed depressed, haunting the dating sites, or gorging yourself on Ben & Jerry’s.


Guess what? You have a stress disorder and the more you do nothing about it the more it continues to manifest in your physical health and your emotions. Perhaps you have developed an autoimmune disorder or have sky-rocketing anxiety. Maybe you are Sleepless in Sarasota or Wired in Wichita. Maybe you have turned into Junk Food Jenny or Red Bull Rita. Maybe you own stock now in Blue Belle Ice Cream. That isn’t recovery. That’s relapse.

Recovery is recognizing you have a stress disorder and doing what you can to:

  • Manage stress well through good nutrition and supplements,
  • Get enough exercise to burn off the adrenaline,
  • Get enough nature time or use relaxation techniques to calm the adrenaline,
  • Figure out what your triggers are and avoid them,
  • Get enough sleep, even though it’s hard to acquire.

That would mean when you got home from work, instead of heading to your favorite social media to rant about his new girlfriend, you instead attended a yoga session or went for a run, and cooked a healthy dinner, followed by soaking in a tub and listening to some motivational You Tubes or reading a spiritual book. Then you sipped some Sleepy Time Tea and took some relaxing herbs and put on your softest jammies. Maybe you washed your sheets and sprayed them with lavender, and still, without peeking at social media, you went to bed at a respectable time.

That’s putting your physical needs first because without your body being healthy, you can’t recover. Period. So, you avoid social media to see what he’s doing, or you block him, or you do something you know calms you. And you do it, not when you are wracked with anxiety and Desperate in Des Moines, but every day so you aren’t desperate. It’s first, not when it’s convenient.


Guess what? You have cognitive dissonance. It causes an internal conflict anytime you compare reality -vs- your hopes/dreams/or how things used to be. And it gets triggered any time you make a diet of cooperating with the flashbacks, discussing ad nauseum the details of Darkness when you keep reading stories of other survivor’s Cluster B relationships. Then it sets off adrenaline and you start having physical symptoms like anxiety.

Recovery is taking the time to catalog triggers as you come to notice them, then making plans to manage or avoid them. Recovery is not only understanding what the triggers are but the ACTION in not doing what triggers you.

  • Creating a mantra for when family/friends repeatedly ask you about him and how to answer it without going into the story.
  • Finding techniques (like LRP) that teach you how to manage the triggers.
  • Stop trigger-seeking on other sites, social media, drive-bys of his house, or on social media.
  • Do something for your depression like get out of bed and exercise even when you don’t feel like it (you will not feel like it in the beginning!)
  • By finding a sense of community somewhere other than in Trigger Land.
  • Find a therapist who can teach you techniques and practice them EVERY DAY.
  • Find out what calms you and use it repeatedly during the day, EVERY DAY, and as prevention before you are triggered.
  • Every day is a day to intervene on old patterns of out-of-control emotional responses.
  • Recovery seeks joy, not in food, drugs, or alcohol but in what pleases the soul and seeks it.


Guess what? Your spirituality has been impacted by evil. No matter your religion or beliefs, evil has inserted itself as a current reality that has been crushing to your hope or even belief that the world can operate as before without the harm of Darkness.

  • No one heals without hope. Hope is generated when your emotions and behavior change DESPITE Darkness.
  • Spirituality believes in a Higher Power beyond oneself that can bring balance to the hopelessness.
  • We heal in a community, we are harmed in isolation so hope is generated as we connect to others, with boundaries, who have a recovery in which we can see hope.
  • Spirituality sees oneself no longer as a victim but as a survivor and eventually as a thriver. It believes that, even though today is hard, tomorrow can be better. It takes physical and emotional steps to make tomorrow better.
  • Spiritual recovery lives out hope in its actions. It finds solace in words of comfort from whatever religion and belief system you hold. It feeds itself daily because hope heals.

As we can see, recovery is a structure, lived daily at FIRST, sometimes minute by minute. It is not a Disaster Relief action. It is lived out daily through a structure that prevents disaster. It puts you first. Recovery first. Not an after-thought but a deliberate, consistent, ACTION that anticipates needs, puts attention (like the oxygen mask) on oneself before anyone else. It is planned into one’s day. And it’s the primary importance of that day – to BUILD a recovery by the actions and self-care taken in a 24-hour period.

There is no recovery until self-care is first, foremost, and consistent. There is nothing that should be ahead of this. You should be taking your internal temperature multiple times a day and adjusting your day to accommodate your needs.

Then, and only then, have you entered recovery.