“The years teach much which the days never know.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, American writer, and philosopher
“Lived experience” can provide valuable lessons to those in early recovery. Alumni and families of kids who have gone through treatment can continue to impart their wisdom upon those new to recovery. When we are in the thick of it, going through one day at a time, we might struggle to see the bigger picture. As the years pass, we can look back and understand the lessons we learned with greater clarity. The value that we can share with others facing similar challenges can make a meaningful impact on their lives.
Sharing in Recovery
Sharing and peer support have been paramount to recovery since the early days of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). When we are in a room full of others, sharing similar emotions and experiences, we might feel more empowered to discuss our own issues. We cannot heal from our problems without first acknowledging them. Peer support helps to recognize our issues and get them out to the world. The need for supporting families who have loved ones suffering from addiction and other issues has spawned the creation of family groups like Al-Anon.
Knowing Versus Understanding
When we struggle with a child exhibiting challenging behaviors, we might feel that no one can relate to these struggles. Aaron Huey of Fire Mountain warns in several episodes of “Beyond Risk and Back,” many families feel “terminally unique.” Families feel like their problems are so exceptional that no one can help them anyway. No one else understands what they go through daily. Feeling like no one understands might keep people from reaching out for help.
However, families and alumni know that they are not alone. During treatment, they might have heard a story from their peers and thought, “me too!” Shared emotional experiences tend to resonate the most with people. The details of a situation are sometimes inconsequential. Other people might know the details of what happened to us, but do they really understand how it felt?
Peer support offers a chance to share the internal details with others. The thoughts and feelings associated with the experiences and events of our lives are what we are yearning to share with others. When we are not actively seeking help and support, friends and family around us might know what is going on in our lives. Their help and support are greatly appreciated; however, when we connect on an emotional level to others sharing similar experiences—that is transformative!
Sharing Experiences Give Hope to Ourselves and Others
During a conversation with Aaron Huey, Robin Pinard, Director of Family Services at WestBridge, NH, shares a quote from a family mentor:
“Family mentoring is a way that gives me meaning in some of the darkest days of my life, where I was in a level of confusion and suffering that I’ve experienced—and now, I get to hold that light for somebody else. Sharing gives me hope and makes me feel better.”
Sharing experiences with other families can help you find meaning in what you have been through. Realizing that what was once painful and challenging for you is now helping to guide others is powerful. You can give others hope just by sharing the wisdom of your experiences.
When we were in our darkest days, hoping that something would change for the better, we might have been helped by others who have “been there.” Now, we can be there for someone else.
We Went Through Treatment—Now What?
Recovery is a lifelong process for both the person afflicted and their loved ones. We might have experienced pain or felt that our family was flawed or different from normal. The effects of this can impact our future relationships or ability to speak up when we are struggling. Remember that when one family member goes through treatment, the entire family needs to heal. Although our child or other loved one may have gone through treatment, we might want to consider seeking peer support for ourselves and our family.
Families and alumni of Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center can be a valuable resource to those in the early stages of recovery. Some alumni have shared their wisdom and stories with others entering treatment or considering recovery.
Families might feel lost and confused. They might feel alienated, as we once were before treatment and beginning our recovery journey. We can be the guiding light to those in the darkness at the cusp of hope.
Sharing our lived experiences with those in early recovery can be incredibly valuable to both them and us. When we were early in recovery with ourselves or our kids, we might have felt that no one understood what we went through. We may have felt so unique in our struggles, that we thought hope was impossible. Most likely, another person reached out to give us a guiding hand, sharing the wisdom of their experiences, and giving us hope. Families and alumni can be valuable to those starting on their journey. Families can continue to seek support for some of the struggles that they continue to face in life. Alumni can continue seeking peer support long after treatment. If you would like to share your story and experiences, we would love to hear from you! Call Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center at (303) 443-3343. Additionally, if you are continuing to struggle and need support, remember that we’ve got your back! Call today.