This is why we aim for progress, not perfection

By Jeanie Gschweng, General Manager, CSTL

If you ask me the number one reason people should choose to live at Clean & Sober Recovery Services, it’s the sense of community, and it’s the way we structure our community.

When I first arrived at CSTL as a resident, I knew that I didn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of staying sober if I returned to the environment where all my people drank and used. So, here’s where the humility part comes in: I had to admit to myself that I didn’t know how to navigate a sober life. I didn’t know how to make my way through the day’s challenges without the help of mood or mind-altering substances. And the sober role models in my life were few and far between. I was a snowball – straight out of treatment – who was going to melt in the hot sun OR find out how to build a life of recovery.

I needed structure and support to learn a new way of living, and that was hard because, like so many, I am an isolator by nature and didn’t want to expose myself to others or rely on them. And I sure didn’t like having anyone call the shots in my life. Ironically, it’s that admission of powerlessness over drugs and alcohol which opens some powerful doors to recovery.
We’ve intentionally designed the CSTL community to open those doors to recovery. In early recovery, you probably don’t trust yourself, your instincts or the way you navigate life. So, look around you – at our Sunday night meetings, or over our communal dining tables - and find the two or three people who you connect with. They can be the nucleus of a support system while you learn to trust the new and sober “you.” That can take time. Many of us navigated life for years with alcohol or drugs as our North Star, and it takes lots of practice to learn healthy new ways to manage life. That’s why we aim for progress, not perfection.

Peer support helps our residents make that forward progress. If you’re struggling, you probably don’t need to reach out for help because your peers in the community have a keen sense of how you are doing. They’ll reach out to you, and they’re right next door, or right down the street. While we’re not all singing “Kumbaya” together, you don’t have to look far for support. At the same time, if some bad old habits start to raise their ugly head (say, some dishonesty or lack of integrity), then your peers will probably spot the little white lie that can morph into darkness. If you’re “fudging” about finding a new sponsor, for example, a neighbor will probably know it and call you on the carpet. Yes - a communal environment demands honesty and accountability and Yes – those are time-tested cornerstones of a strong recovery.

All you need to succeed at CSTL is a little bit of willingness: willingness to consider new ways to live; willingness to reach out and be reached; willingness to do what it takes to build a strong and resilient recovery. If you’re willing, we’re ready to show you the way.

 

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