I've read in a lot of places that recovery is a process that gets worse before it gets better.
Simplistically speaking, yes. Speaking from my own experience, it's not necessarily a steady progression from worse to better. So far it's been more like really hitting bottom (which for me was basically when I started recovery), then steadily moving into an overall better, tho certainly with a lot of potholes, ups & downs, from day to day.
Every day is not higher or even forward, but it is progression overall. Sometimes moving forward requires some moves back; flying upward requires diving downward.
Part of the hang-up with the concept of progress, what's better & what's worse, is that we are socially wired to think absence of pain is better,
presence of pain is worse.
Now I don't like pain--it hurts!
But what has hurt me even more sometimes is the absence of pain, the inability to feel it. Becuz I bury it deep inside, or becuz I act/numb out to mask it.
When I did this I sometimes didn't feel as much pain, but I was hurting myself more. It's like the leper who gets so numb his hand could be on fire & he might not know it till his arm burned off. Then later of course I hurt a lot more.
Pain is not to be looked for or asked for. Nor is it always to be avoided. Many times when I didn't feel pain I didn't feel anything else either--things like love, intimacy, joy, compassion, etc.
Allowing the pain I already do have like it or not to be felt and then dealt with has been key to my recovery thus far. And it has not been regression but progression; not going backward but forward; thus not necessarily worse, but in many ways better.
It's like as I quit popping over the counter pills to mask my pain symptoms & go to doctors for surgeries or therapies that hurt like crazy & are sore for a while & tough to work thru. But it deals with the pain at the source and now I can feel better & not hurt so much.
If you're far enough into your recovery that you feel you're in the "gets better" part, can you say in hindsight when you turned the corner? I don't expect to be able to set a timetable or a checklist for myself, but I want to hear about the getting better part.
Joe as I said above it's been a bumpy road that leads forward but requires backing up or slowing down at times.
Turned a lot of corners along the way already, and often had to slow down or back up into pain to do so.
Like confronting my mother (perp #1) in Gestalt or two-chair therapy last fall; painful at times but a major breakthrough. Riding the Central Park carousel that held one of my rare good childhood memories in January; painful as going to Manhattan
and Ground Zero was in some ways. Spending some time this week with a close survivor friend; supporting each other thru some intense pain as well as some incredible joys.
No Joe I don't think there can be a timetable or even a very strict checklist, tho there are certainly things we can do in therapy, support, medication, exercise, etc.
Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary, and last summer I didn't think we'd make it to this anniversary together. I'm not feeling like I think I should, or perhaps I'm not in touch with the joy that some part of me is feeling about that.
Indulge me as I wax technical for a moment Joe:
"Happiness": from the early English
"happenstance," feelings based purely on circumstances surrounding happenings, often largely out of our control. Feelings of "good" thus depend on events or people beyond our ability
or need to control.
"Joy": from the early Greek "charis," graciousness
or grace, a feeling, desire, & effort that comes from within oneself, certainly affected by happenstance but not dependent on it and definitely not the same thing.
Do I seek happiness? Sure; I spent enuf of my life
looking for trouble, if usually unknowingly. I take seriously the Serenity Prayer:
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (speaks more to joy), the courage to change the things I can
(speaks more to happiness), and the wisdom to know the difference (there can always be joy, but not always happiness)."
So ultimately I seek joy on the journey, along with what happiness I can create.
That's just me; IMHOFWIW.