The gift of recovery takes work

Editor’s note: This is the second of two parts.

The solution to pain and frustration for clients is to acknowledge the feelings of anger, rage, shame, guilt, anxiety, depression and fear, and how these feelings are related to their sobriety in recovery. People that make a commitment to recovery make the following rational statements: They

“Accept the fact that they are responsible for what they choose to think and feel”

“Accept that they cannot blame others for their choices or behaviors”

“Accept that they are responsible for who they are”

“Accept that they are responsible for the consequences of their actions”

“Accept that their thinking determines their feelings and behaviors about any event, no matter how negative they are”

“Accept that they are their own best cheerleader and friend, and it is unhealthy to depend on others to make you fee good, or for others to increase your self-worth”

“Accept the fact that the “bum deal” they may have received in life, and empower themselves to take control and direction in their life each day”

“Accept that the hurts, pains, abuses, mistreatment is in the past, today is today, grow up emotionally and let’s get going with life today.”

This is why people come to treatment, because they are in pain, mentally, physically and spiritually. They come to learn the “how” of recovery. REBT is a “here and now” philosophy. We teach that the past doesn’t cause feelings, people do not cause feelings, nor do events cause feelings. A person’s thinking, however, can cause him or her to have difficulty with anger, rage, shame and guilt, anxiety, depression and fear.

Thus, as I mentioned in the early part of his article, there are universal truths that become self-evident in coaching and counseling. In coaching, if your team shoots 70% in the first half, unless they are playing against a very bad team, they usually won’t shoot 70% in the second half. In counseling, the universal truth is abstinence. If you send me your son, daughter, husband or wife, and they are being medicated to help them in their recovery, say with methadone, then the universal truth is they should not test positive for any other drug. Treatment facilities that are subscribing to “harm reduction” are opening themselves to lawsuits down the road because of the pharmacology of addiction. In coaching, after a team has given 120% and still lost on a last second shot or anything else, unconditional acceptance is the only behavior. In counseling, when clients “have it going” and then relapse, the universal truth is “humility.” I teach that you retrace what happened, say the last 4 to 5 weeks, and learn that you now know something that doesn’t work, no matter what the thinking. It’s unfortunate, but not awful, terrible, or horrible. For example, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots, lost over 300 games, and failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Not bad from probably the greatest basketball player to ever play the game, Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls, six NBA championships.

So in this thing called “counseling” I always try to remember that I’m dealing with FMHBs Falliable Miserable Human Beings who need to learn, not how to get rid of unwanted thinking patterns and behaviors, but to learn how to manage them better based upon abstinence once crossing over into abuse and dependence.

I’ll leave you with this saying. “Write injuries in the sand, and kindness in marble.” To those of you out there who have provided me with great kindness and fond words, thank you. All we have to do is save one person, and we are on our way.

Mike Tramuta has been a CASAC counselor for more than 30 years and currently runs the REBT program on Thursday nights at the Holy Trinity Parish Center from 7 to 8:15 p.m. Call 983-1592 for more information.


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