Issues & Solution: Relapse / Stalled Recovery

Power In Discovering Your Audience

Coming from a theater background, I’m no stranger to an audience.

“All the world’s a stage… And one man in his time plays many parts…”

In William Shakespeare’s play, “As You Like It,” Act II Scene VII, purpose-filled life is compared to that of a theatre stage.

How much more does that apply for those of us recovering from addiction, disorder or abuse?

Besides my theater background, I also have an eating disorder history as well. In college, I battled both anorexia and bulimia.

Indeed, during my sophomore year, desperate in my bulimic behavior, I began to dumpster dive…

“… I’d try to play it off, pretending everything was normal as people passed by me scrounging in the dumpster… in broad daylight… I couldn’t hide any longer from others what I was doing… people were noticing…”*
*Excerpt from Sheryle Cruse’s book, “Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder”

This was an unwelcomed audience for me.

Nevertheless, people saw. And, no matter how I tried, I could not escape the Presence of the Most High.

For a long time, I fought God.

Using Our Recovery Feet

Over the years, I have learned about boundaries and the discernment needed in determining when to stay and when to go.

“And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.” Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11


These scriptures often deal with the spreading of the Gospel. And that is certainly the case. But I also see them applying to addiction/recovery matters as well.

1. We admitted we were powerless over a substance or behavior ─ our lives had become unmanageable.

Step One challenges our “I have this under control” lie we often tell ourselves.

I have encountered this from close family members, most specifically, my mother.

I was rather late arriving to the therapy party when it came to addressing my disordered eating/image issues. I wasn’t in therapy as a skeletal anorexic, an impulsive bulimic or a ravenous overeater. No. It was a matter of “years later” when I finally decided I needed to face personal issues about myself. And I did it alone.

I did it alone because, when it came to dealing with those unpleasant and difficult issues, my family was unwilling to participate in unflattering truth’s revelation.

I first encountered this as an emaciated anorexic.

Why is it Important to Have a Sponsor?

Why is it important to have a sponsor? Why do I need someone to guide me along in my journey through recovery? Can’t I do this thing alone? I’m a private person. I don’t want someone else knowing my problems. It’s nobody’s business what is going on in my life.

I asked those questions and said those things when I first began on my recovery journey. It wasn’t until I read the Scripture that goes along with Step Four that I finally realized God doesn’t desire for this journey to be solo. His desire is for me to find someone I trust to help, guide, and teach me along the way.

FOMO: Fear of Missing Out

“Once is never enough, never is and never was, uh-huh,
Here and now is all that counts, here and now in large amounts, uh-huh”
~ Adam Ant, “Room at the Top”


In our culture today, there is a go-for-the gusto acronym, “FOMO,” “Fear of Missing Out.” I see it influencing our behavior. It declares we need to pounce on living life, taking advantage of every opportunity, going for our dreams.

But I also see its addiction message too, mainly reflected in the bender/binge concept with which some struggle. Each of us must deal with our individual vulnerabilities concerning substances, food, chaotic behaviors and relationships – and any other tempting vice under the sun.

Two events which spring to the top of my mind are Fat Tuesday and Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

The Trigger of Grief

In the work of recovery, we address the danger of triggers. Its very word itself suggests the power to cause us harm:

“Something that precipitates a particular event or situation; To set off; initiate; To fire or explode.”


On one August morning of 2003, I encounter such a trigger. The phone rang. My dad was dead.

My grief, for the next year and a half, was an alarming, unexpected reality. And each subsequent “anniversary” proves equally tricky also. Both defy what I thought I would – or should – be experiencing.

After all, coming from an abusive childhood, I didn’t think the loss of this pain-inflicting parent would register as significantly as it did.

Let it All Go: Hurts, Anger, Resentment, Frustration

…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.Romans 10:9


Some days I am just tired. Some days I have a difficult time with letting go and giving my worries to God. Some days I have the full confidence I can let God be God and other days I want to wrestle control back into my grip. Do you ever feel this way?

Learning to Trust

Trusting others has been difficult for me. People have hurt me over the years and trust did not come naturally for me as a result. My husband, Patrick, never gave me a reason not to trust him, but still I questioned him in my mind. After he stopped drinking over a year ago, I wasn’t sure I could trust he would continue to abstain.

This lack of trust carried over into my relationship with Jesus. Could I trust Him? Could I take His Word for truth? Could I believe He loved me despite the past I carried with me? I worked against God’s way for so many years, how could He possibly love me?

Self-created Hells

Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40

Internet surfer that I am, I recently came across a meme which could be described as a drama queen’s motto:

“I don’t want to be overdramatic. But today felt like a hundred days in hell.”


Yes, within the faith community, it is often agreed eternal torment is some kind of reality, even if it is beyond our finite minds.

Nevertheless, we do ourselves a large disservice to ignore our own self-created and contained versions of this most unpleasant torture. For indeed, even those pious Christian versions of us need to admit something hardly “Christ-like” or flattering. Sometimes we like to create our own little Hells. And then we further enjoy tossing others – and ourselves – INTO them.

Know the Difference: Healthy or Unhealthy Support System?

“Know the difference between those who stay to feed the soil and those who come to grab the fruit.”


This sobering statement recently came to my attention. I don’t know who originally said it, but it resonates, all the same.

It has personally factored in heavily as I have learned, firsthand, who was a part of my healthy support system…and who was NOT.

Indeed, this concept plays a MAJOR role for each of us as we navigate our addiction/recovery journeys. It is usually not too long in life, before we encounter the all too common cliché dysfunction of co-dependency, narcissism and/or exploitation.

Uncomfortable Silence is a Teacher Too

Recovery-from much of anything – is often not done in the steady hum of encouragement. It’s frequently done in intimidating quiet. Even with support groups, sponsors, treatment centers, churches and any number of “support structures,” we are still left with our true selves. And, no matter what affirmations we have heard and learned, we alone are left to apply them. There is no uplifting outside cheerleader. There is just our decision.

I know this comes across as negative, especially concerning “the Higher Power” factor.

As a person of faith, I’m not dismissing the role The Most High plays. Rather, I see how the Divine shows up in disguised forms, one of those being the unanswered quiet.