A person who never makes a mistake never tried anything new. -Albert Einstein
Moving from what we refer to as addiction to what we call recovery means doing something new. Whether the focus on recovery is simply abstinence or a process that seeks to answer the underlying psychic forces driving the addiction, we are trying to learn to navigate the same world under a totally different paradigm. Mistakes will inevitably be made. With our oft used “uninterrupted clean time” as a metric for defining successful recovery, there can be a lot of shame involved with missing the mark and returning to use. But more subtle are the myriad ways that we may falter as we try to navigate the complexities of work, social involvement, and especially romantic connection while simultaneously trying to live without the substances or behaviors that made up our addictions. Furthermore, our addicted lives will have often eroded our functioning to the point where we have to relearn basic skills that those around us had honed years before. The point is that we aren’t just trying something new, we are learning many new complex and emotionally intricate skills that may take years to integrate into a new way of navigating life smoothly. Go ahead, make some mistakes.