5 Easy Steps to Recovery: Step 1

5 Easy Steps to Recovery

Wouldn’t that be great? Five Easy Steps! I never trust anything that proclaims “5 Easy Steps to . . .” whatever. If recovery were easy, it wouldn’t have taken me 11 years! But would you really want to read a post titled, “5 Really Difficult Steps to Recovery?” I didn’t think so. A therapist I knew often said, “It’s simple, but not easy.”

In this post, I’ll highlight the steps and detail the first. Next week, I’ll delve into Step 2.

Step 1: Decide.

Step 2: Tell the truth.

Step 3: Take responsibility.

Step 4: Trust the process.

Step 5: Heal.

Step 1: Decide. Dr. Colin Ross of the Ross Trauma Center asked me more than once, “When are you going to decide to get well?” I thought maybe we should trade places, because that was such a stupid question. Didn’t he understand that if I could I would? The truth that I did not yet understand was that the power for me to get well had always been there; I just wasn’t ready to say, “Enough! I choose to get well.”

You must make a conscious decision to get well. Draw a line in the sand, if you will. Make a note of where you are and the date, so that any time you’re tempted to turn around and go back to old habits, people or ways of thinking, you have a date and place to bring to mind that reminds you of your decision. Once you make that decision, keep pushing forward. You may not do it perfectly; I didn’t. But you will stay on the path toward health.

My line in the sand was drawn on May 18, 2001, in an ambulance on the way to the hospital for a very serious overdose. It came right after the EMT told me that he didn’t think that I’d make it. At that moment, I realized that I didn’t really want to die like I’d thought just a few minutes earlier. I decided that if I survived, I would never attempt suicide again. And now since I had decided to live, I had to learn to do it differently. My life changed at that point, because I decided to get well.

Are you ready to get well? Really ready? Then make the decision to get well. Write your decision along with the date in your journal. When you wake up in the morning, remind yourself that it’s a new beginning, because you have decided to get well. Then take it one step at a time. You have a community here, and I want to help you walk your journey.

In today’s post, we’re looking at the second step in the process of recovery. If you missed Step 1, just pull up the previous post. Next week, we’ll talk about Step 3.


6 responses to “5 Easy Steps to Recovery: Step 1

  • Bipolar bear

    I applaud your conviction. I also applaud your want to heal. I do think your “simple but difficult” descriptor to be on mark, even more than you know. I have to say though that before one can decide to get well one has to know why there is a problem and believe that one can get well. Deciding is incomplete without the knowledge that one has a problem and that it stems from something specific. It is also incomplete without motivation. That is why many abusers “don’t get well”. They have no motivation to “get well”. They are motivated to avoid punishment.
    Having been molested at a very early age and growing up thinking that everyone else had my experience and it was just I who was overly sensitive complicated the knowledge that many problems that I had were not because I was a bad person or stupid or whatever the bullies called me in school but that there was a background issue that influenced my decisions and created a different identity than if I hadn’t been abused. Add to that the ailment that warped my moods: Bipolar Disorder. Separating the disorder’s symptoms from the abuse’s mental remnants is no easy task. I haven’t even started therapy yet because I don’t know how to balance all the ills that afflict me.
    I really hope that this will be a good blog to follow. I need support. Anyone who has experienced sexual abuse, molestation or any kind of personal boundary invasion needs positive reinforcement to help them through the pain, suffering and the mind washing that comes from that type of abuse.
    Peace and Good Luck!!

    • jessibmiller

      Dear Bear,

      I’m so glad you wrote! I agree that one must know you have a problem, before one can decide to get well. This blog presupposes that readers will be aware of that, otherwise they would not feel the need for the support of a blog like this. This entire blog is designed to offer the hope of getting well, so I’m really glad you pointed that out. Anais Nin once wrote that before a person is willing to change, the pain of staying the same must become greater than the pain of change. That is so true when it comes to motivation!

      I hope you realize that you were not bad or stupid because of what happened to you nor did you cause it to happen in any way! And I do understand about the confusion of the mixing of bipolar symptoms and the results of abuse, because I, too, have Bipolar Disorder. Fortunately for me, I was diagnosed with bipolar after I was very far along in my recovery from the abuse. However, when I hit a patch of depression, it’s hard to know if it’s just chemical, just emotional or a mixture of the two. Sometimes it takes a psychiatrist and/or therapist to sort it out. Studies have shown that ongoing therapy is as essential in treating bipolar disorder as medication. I know the thought of therapy is terrifying, but I think a really good therapist can make a huge difference in life for anyone who has bipolar or has been abused.

      I hope you will find support here. We all need community to begin or continue in recovery. Thanks so much for joining us!

  • carol

    wow this is sort off where i am now, i have been trying to heal from my childhood since i was 17 im 43 now and still have huge swathes hidden from my memory as it is still to painful for me to face, as it was those who i love the most who had hurt me the most. this is the kernel of it fo rme i think and though i have done alot of healing to fit into society and be ;normalised’ ao i dont stick out like a sore thumb has been very hard for me, though i have managed to do it for the main part, yet as soon as i enter my home, i start to behave like a different person. it hard because i have a husband and a child who dont need me flying of the handle all the time im at home because i cannot cope with the instinctive reaction to scream and shout at my child and hubby. that i cannot feel the love i tell them i have for them and have had no sex life for nearly 3 yrs as when we try i freeze and stress out, which is not what hubby wants, as he tends to take it so personally, even though i have tried to explain it noot him it my past.
    i am waiting for some deep cbt therapy but not sure when it will start as the list is long and i already been waiting 15 months for help. not that i have stopped working at my healing, as thats how i have always treated it as work and to be seen through to the end even if i dont want to, which is one of my issues, doing things i dont want to because i feel the pressure of failure n not being loved or liked if i dont. have tried to do loads of worrk on that one and am alot more confident on the outside though the reason i felt that way is there it just pushed further down aiting to be faced. mmm gone off topic again, sorry
    i keep saying i am trying to get well but until i face the earliest years there is no way i can detangle the past from my present and i hate the awareness as much s i am starting to hate myself for not taking that last few steps

    • jessibmiller

      I have good news for you! While being in treatment for a very long time, I saw the treatment for sexual abuse change from the model that required having to dig up everything from the past, remember it and face it to a model of dealing instead with your emotions and thoughts about what happened to you. You don’t have to go back to early childhood to heal. My treatment progressed more quickly with this style of treatment. I had to face the pain of what happened and the reality that it was the people who were supposed to love me the most who hurt me the most, but I didn’t have to remember everything. What a relief! It is most important to deal with the results of the abuse. It’s obviously having a serious effect on your life. The people who helped me the most were associated with the Colin Ross Institute. I don’t think it’s necessary to go to someone associated with the Ross Institute, but they might be able to give you the name of a good therapist in your area. That might save you the trial and error problems. You can reach Melissa Caldwell at: 972-918-9588. I frequently go to Timberlawn, the hospital here in Dallas where the Ross Institute operates a trauma center. This is not a plug for Dr. Ross, because there are plenty of other really good trauma docs and therapists; I just don’t know all their names. It’s just important to have someone who understands trauma and how to help you work with the feelings and the faulty thinking that results from abuse.

      I’ll be praying for you, Carol. I know you want to be released from the prison of pain that abuse has put you in, and that’s what this blog is about. I’m not a professional, but I can offer encouragement if you’ll let me.

      Thanks for writing.

  • carol derry

    thanks jessica, im in the uk so how mental health services are pretty poor to be fair. though through me moaning i have an appointment with someone on the 8th oct. thanks for the prayers they are always welcome, but i havent a need torant as i sort of past all the. but the long term damage is being ignoredand though as a survivor we have to take responsibilty for how we react, but being trained by people who dont really care for you has some deep and unsettling reactions and behaviours. studied this at uni

    • Jessica


      Please forgive me for my absence and my late reply to you. Things have been difficult lately. I’m so sorry you’re having to go through all this. I will pray for you. I’m especially sorry that the services available to you are poor; that makes it all just that much harder.

      You’re right. Though we do have to take responsibility, it is harder for those of us who have been abused to live the way we want. Please hang in there and keep in touch!


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