“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” –Helen Keller
At South Orange County Detox and Treatment this week, we will be featuring “character” as our focus for our continuing series, Word of the Week. One’s character denotes the quality and consistency that they apply morality to in any given situation or experience. In other words, each of us have our own distinct character which is the summation of past choices we have made as well as the extent to which we were able to maintain integrity and hold onto ourselves despite factors that may make these decisions difficult. The compromising of our character is something that the struggling addict knows all too well. Personally, I still continue to struggle with the same defects of character that riddled me throughout my addiction which caused so much internal dissonance. The only difference is that today, combatting these defects while fostering compassion and forgiveness for myself has become much easier. If I am being honest, I continue to struggle with issues of co-dependency, an inflated ego, and laziness; I’m only stating those 3 defects because I only have 500 a few pages to finish this blog post, but rest assured, my own list of defects goes on ad infinitum. The only way that I, or any of us, have a shot at curbing our character defects is when we are sober, and as far as we can see, there is no way to circumvent this truth. In my addiction, I would have had no shot at ever really changing my behaviors or fostering a sense of ethics and morals. Conversely, the task of building quality character while shedding our old shell of faulty character is a monumental endeavor even in sobriety! The point I am making is that we cannot start on this journey until we make the commitment to do it without drugs and alcohol. Here at SOCD, our primary goal is to facilitate any changes that are required in order to help the individual learn to maintain sobriety. Part of achieving this goal, however, means that we help the individual to identify what barriers are getting in their way, and then we help show them how to move these barriers so eventually they can do it autonomously when they are not in treatment. This process is where the real magic and healing can begin. Salina, the owner, visionary, and primary healer at SOCD dedicates an inordinate amount of time with every client in order to examine and ultimately identify the defects in character that are blocking the growth and evolution of the individual so that they may grow into what they are supposed to be; she doesn’t just merely use words to convey the notion that acorns were meant to become oak trees, but helps provide clarity to their vision while actually taking the steps with each client in order to help them navigate through the darkness and into the light.
After working in recovery for the past 5 years, I can say that without sobriety, us addicts have virtually nothing. Following this premise, however, I believe there is also a component that is equally important to advancing our quality of life that is ignored in much of contemporary recovery programs and that is dealing with building up worthy character while eradicating the weight of our selfishly-directed character. If we get sober but our character stay static, we are typically referred to as a “dry drunk”. Now if you asked someone to define a dry drunk they may not give you the answer I did, however, we all know that individual who is sober yet miserable and I believe that is attributed to a lack of focus in this particular facet of recovery. Keeping one’s character in check and ensuring that we are engaged in thoughts, actions, and feelings that would not set us back in our ability to move forward is not an easy task, nor is it one that ever ends, at least for this addict. Consistency is key when discussing character because if we can evaluate ourselves and the application of morality in an honest fashion, we will realize that if we are not tenaciously mindful of checking ourselves, we will surely fall victim to our own indifference and devolve back into old patterns of behavior. For me, this is where I begin to succumb to all the defects that are still pervading and is usually a sign that relapse is eminent.
In conclusion, our hope at SOCD is that this serves as a reminder to continue working to shed old, unnecessary, and damaging defects of character while simultaneously engaging in new, ethical, and rewarding acts so that we may continue to thrive in sobriety and live lives we only dreamed of. If you or a loved one you know is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, please give us a call so that we may help shine a light on your path while we walk with you out of the darkness.