“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.” ~John Pierpont Morgan
A space shuttle flight crew returning to earth cannot kick back, cross their fingers, and simply hope re-entry works out. The flight crew must access their extensive training, check and double check all variables, meticulously plan the re-entry, and stay in communication with professionals trained to help them in order to be successful.
Similarly, there comes a time when you leave residential treatment and plan “re-entry” to your actual life. Despite feeling hopeful and prepared, it can be frightening to leave behind the safety, structure and support of residential treatment. When I returned home from Castlewood in February 2012, I quickly learned that re-entry demanded my attention and respect.
There were difficult things about re-entry that I hadn’t anticipated. Many places, including my own home, seemed unfamiliar. I felt unsure about contacting friends. I felt out of place everywhere I turned. The world seemed huge and overwhelming and unpredictable.
It was important at that point to follow the example of a space shuttle crew and use all my resources. I saw my therapist and dietitian multiple times per week. I re-read my relapse prevention plan, and gave copies of it to people who would hold me accountable. I continued to journal and write, as well as express myself through art and other mediums. I involved my family in recovery. Rather than asking them to “support” me, I asked them to do very specific things. For example, one helped with menu ideas, while another helped with grocery shopping. We implemented a “feelings check in” where each family member would share their feelings under two rules: feelings must be honestly stated, and no fixing other people’s feelings. Some of those check-in’s proved to be quite interesting! Most importantly, I was patient with myself. I limited my responsibilities and allowed my confusing feelings. I trusted that in time I would feel less overwhelmed, and looking back now I can see that being patient with my process was the perfect homecoming gift.