Monday, July 30, 2012

Dealing with Disappointment

Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

Ever feel disappointed?  Yeah, that's what I thought!  Me too.  I spoke to a patient today who was feeling very disappointed about his current life circumstances.  A father of 3 boys, John* felt like his life was over.  At 28, he was in the throes of heroin addiction.  He came to detox and today was completing his time with us.  

As we spoke, he got angry and shouted, "Why?  Tell me why?  What's the point?  Why do you get up out of bed every morning?"  Admittedly, I was not expecting the question.  Quickly, I thought to myself, "Be honest.  Don't give him a bluff answer."  I replied, " get up every day because I believe life is so much greater than me.  I believe that life has purpose and value especially in living to help others.  Is it easy?  No!  Is it fair?  Definitely not!  Is it bad?  Sometimes!  The way I look at is we all have to meet the grim reaper some day but I say why push the appointment forward."  

He looked at me with his eyes in disbelief.  He responded, "Yeah.  Yeah, I see what you mean."  I wish I could say he was lost in the sea of excitement and inspiration from my answer but he wasn't.  He continued, "All I want to do is sit on the couch and shoot heroin all day."  Clearly, recovery takes a lot of time.  He is just beginning his journey.

How do you deal with disappointment?  They say disappointment is the distance between your expectations and actual reality.  Some call it the 'reality gap'.  Is your 'reality gap' small, medium, or large?  I would say we all have at least a small 'reality gap' from time to time however many of use are living in the large 'reality gap' zone more often than not.  Recovery is about eliminating, at best or reducing at worst, that gap so we are aligning our expectations with actual reality.  

Why?  Because relapse occurs when we are disappointed.  It's not a fun emotion to feel.  We don't like to feel that gnawing, empty, apathetic feeling when someone or something steals the wind from our sails and leaves us stranded floating on the sea of indifference.  That's when we have to pick ourselves up and dust off the apathy and indifference and get in the boat called reality.  It's a very big ship with confusing corridors, windows, and doors.  However, it comes equipped with a 'You Are Here' sign.  Most of us ignore the sign and try to figure out the ship on our own.  Not a good idea.  Make use of the 'You Are Here' sign as much as you can.  Don't worry, you won't miss it.  You can't miss it because reality will keep putting it in front of you until you choose to see it, comprehend it, and accept it.  

I'm sorry you've experienced disappointment.  I've had my fair share as well.  Reality says that nothing is easy and that there are no guarantees.  I choose to embrace that this very moment as I write this blog.  Don't talk to me in 5 minutes might change!  Dealing with disappointment can often be a moment by moment decision.  

At The Coleman Institute, we love to help people get clean and stay clean.  If you or someone you love is in need of detox from opiatesalcoholbenzosMethadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitant to call Jennifer Pius at 1-877-77-DETOX (33869).  We are here to help you and yours get clean and stay clean! 

*Name changed to protect identity

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