“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy;
For what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves;
We must die to one life before we can enter another.”
One of the key concepts for the wellness recovery model is hope. Recovery is a reality and being able to direct and live “your” life is the goal. A hopeful attitude combined with a healthy perception of life’s difficulties, allows us to move forward and not slip backwards, because life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Even when we feel very hopeful, recovery doesn’t always happen according to plan. Relapse into habitual patterns often occurs because we don’t reach our goals fast enough.
Victor Frankl, the founder of logo therapy and Vienna psychiatrist, who was also a Holocaust survivor, recalls in his book Mans search for Meaning, the following story that took place in his concentration camp. “One day a fellow prisoner confided to him that a voice in a strange dream had promised to answer whatever question he wanted to ask. So he asked the voice to tell him when the camp would be liberated. The dream voice replied, March 30th. The man awakened from his dream absolutely thrilled and excited — March 30th was only a few weeks away. Under the torturous conditions in the camp, the man took the dream seriously, believing with all his heart that March 30th would bring salvation. But as the day approached and the news reaching the prisoners remained discouraging, the man took sick.”
On March 31th, after the deadline and no liberation, the man died. The physical cause of his death was listed as typhus. But Dr. Frankl believes it was the sudden loss of hope, (the severe disappointment) which lowered the man’s resistance to the infection. This experience — along with many others like it — convinced Dr. Frankl that if you have nothing more to expect for life, you begin to lose life.
So be patient and concentrate on the good things in life. We may not see a change tomorrow, next week, or even next month. But as we look back we will see a new life has emerged. So we come to learn that the beginning of hope is being able to visualize ourselves moving on beyond our current conditions and circumstances. But the true experience of hope only happens when we begin to address the core issues (our perceptions and choices) for the first time.