An excerpt from An Exploration of Truth by William M. Kaufman Ph.D.
“When I worked in an addictions treatment facility, it was not uncommon for residents to ask me what I was recovering from. While I was not recovering from alcohol or any particular substance, I realized it was not only from those things that we cut off parts of ourselves. How many of our other obsessions and compulsions indicate parts of ourselves that we have cut off and can’t deal with? To what extent do our various moods indicate areas of resistance and unresolved issues? What is it, exactly, that the workaholic, foodaholic, and sexaholic fear, and are running away from? The proliferation of twelve-step groups is not just for the variety of substances we ingest, but rather for the variety of behaviors that we engage in obsessively and compulsively. We can accept and welcome all these groups for the positive and growing recognition that recovery is open to every one of us; that we all have our unique ways of walling off those parts of ourselves that are too painful and fearful to deal with.
Like illness, recovery is not a state. It is not an object, or a noun. The truth about recovery is that it is also a verb. It is a process. Life itself is a process. It is forever changing and moving forward. Healing never has to stop. There is always more we can recover, becoming more whole along the way. Recovery is discovery. Recovering parts of ourselves that had been cut off means they are finally revealed to us, and we discover something new about ourselves. We discover that we are greater than we were before. More aware of our inner strength and resources, we become empowered. If life is growing and healing, recovering and discovering, then death is stopping, not moving forward, and that can start long before we actually give up the body.
When we cure a disease, what have we essentially accomplished? Webster’s New World Dictionary defines cure as “specifically suggesting the elimination of disease…” and distinguishes it from healing as “the making or becoming whole of a wound, sore, lesion, etc. …” Curing, therefore, is only part of the process of illness, and does not necessarily lead to healing. In curing nothing has been recovered. There has only been a return to the state of being or to those conditions that existed before the outbreak of the disease. In other words, the messenger has been outwardly vanquished. We can then easily convince ourselves that everything is back to normal, and continue the way of living we had previously known; with all the barriers and walls of denial as firmly in place as before. But have we healed? Have we recovered anything we had walled off? Those inner pains and wounds remain as firmly locked in place as before; the demons just as restless. It is probably only a question of time until they rear their ugly faces again. Without healing, we just perpetuate an intolerable situation. Without healing, we stifle life itself. Life is healing and healing is recovering. They are one process.”