Recovery is a huge word. It carries so much weight, so much responsibility.
Recovery implies black and white thinking. One has either recovered or has not. Those who are recovering are in the grey area – but they are still aspiring to the end goal of having recovered. Recovering is a state of limbo, not a state of rest. A path that those who travel want to reach the end as soon as they can.
In reality, recovery is just a journey. There is no summit to reach, no light at the end of the tunnel – recovery is the tunnel, the winding corridor that never seems to get shorter no matter how long you’ve been walking. The door at the end never gets any closer. The traveler will never reach the end of the tunnel.
But this doesn’t mean they’re destined to stay in the dark.
Once you start to revel in the grey area – once you stop aiming for the summit – you get to enjoy the in-between. You realize that grey is a lighter color than the darkness of your past, and while you may never reach the light at the end of the tunnel, there is a comfort to be found in being one step closer. Little Red Riding Hood doesn’t have to reach Grandmother’s house, and instead can live a happy life in the flowerbeds, safe in the knowledge that she has fled the wolf.
This isn’t to say that striving for ‘a full recovery’ doesn’t have value. Having a goal on the edge of the horizon keeps you from settling into the realm of ‘getting by’, and for those who can reach at the end of the corridor, it’s satisfying and worthwhile. Some demons can be dispelled, exorcised, banished back to the shadows, leaving the traveler free to reach their destination and escape the treacherous path along which they’ve come.
Others aren’t so easily defeated.
I have a lot of demons to fight. They each have their turn, taking up my headspace with their enchantments and their curses, rolling 1d20 to see whether they render me incapacitated with panic or insomnia. My attacks against them are slow in return – I’m unable to retaliate outside of weekly therapy sessions, whereas they can surprise me at any time with a sucker punch to the mind.
So, I’m trying to give up fighting.
Instead, I’m taking my demons out to coffee.
The light at the end of the tunnel feels out of reach for me right now. I may get there someday, but at the moment, I’m trying to settle in the grey area. Set up camp in the flowerbeds. Accept my demons as my equals – better that than they remain my superior. I will accept them, acknowledge them, and embrace them. Make art with them. Make art from them.
Maybe this way the nightmares will stop. Maybe this way I’ll be able to eat without feeling guilty, be able to sleep with the girl I’m seeing without feeling so on edge that I could fall into a pit of terror and flashbacks at any moment. Maybe this way, I’ll be able to trust people just a little bit more. Maybe this way, I’ll be able to tackle the path one step at a time.
Recovery is a huge word, and it’s one that I’m trying to strip of its power. If I can settle into the journey, I don’t need to worry about the destination. All I need to do then is turn my enemies into travel companions.
I’m not accepting defeat. I’m just trying to fight my battles in a different way.
Maybe this way I might actually recover.