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  • Marty Lythgoe

"Some assembly required..."

Over the last few weeks I have made two online purchases of household items that came with the warning, "Some assembly required." I knew this when I ordered the items and felt quite confident in my skills and experience to handle the projects effectively. While I did manage to complete the assemblies satisfactorily, the process was more challenging than I anticipated and caused me to reflect on the assembly of a good addiction recovery foundation.


Parts required in any assembly project usually include some different sized screws, nuts and bolts, and often some wooden dowels to hold the finished project together. You want to be sure that all the parts required are included. The parts required to begin recovery include our thoughts and beliefs, our feelings, our moral values and our conscience. It is possible that our parts are a little rusty and slightly damaged, but I think you'll find they are all there.


Tools required generally include a screwdriver (often regular and Phillips), a hammer (use sparingly), and often an Allen wrench. Sometimes these tools are included in the packaging. The tools required to begin and complete recovery usually include some degree of honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. These tools may have been misplaced and you will probably have to allot time to find them. Other tools required for completion of the job are humility, patience, and gratitude. It is also a good idea to have on hand some listening and communication skills and a readiness to accept responsibility for yourself.


Time required is a trick question. In the directions I was looking at, it stated "20-30 minutes." So I allowed 2-3 hours based on my previous experience with these kind of projects. It always takes longer. Our recovery also always takes longer than we would like. It takes longer to achieve physical stability. It takes longer to gain some measure of control over our runaway emotions. It takes longer to identify and free ourselves from faulty belief systems. It takes longer to make recovering friends. We are seemingly programmed for instant gratification and everything just takes longer than we expect. Key skills in both the assembly of our project and our recovery is the ability to follow directions and the ability to trust and enjoy the process.


Help required - another trick! The directions always say that assembly can be accomplished easily by one person. I have found this to be true if you are person with 3 or 4 hands. Because I am not such a person, I have learned that there will always come a time when I will need some help. It is the same in recovery. People who try to recover all on their own usually fail. We need others around us to encourage us, support us, and often to hold us accountable. Self-delusion is a common human trait and we require others to help us recognize when we have drifted off course


Pictures, not words. I have noticed a shift in assembly directions included with these household projects. They used to include written directions, clearly done by a person for whom English is a second language. Now, there seem to be no words at all, only pictures. I learned that you better study the pictures very closely because the secret of successful assembly is in the minute details of the pictures. Recovery is just like this. You better watch closely. It is easy to "talk the talk" of recovery, but you better study closely those who actually "walk the walk." Recovery should be observable.


I wish you well with your assembly projects and hope this helps.


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