DENIAL occurs when someone has not yet fully comprehended the change to their lives. It is a safety mechanism that protects one from being overwhelmed by their feelings; it is a form of shock. A person with an obvious to others 'hurt, habit or hang-up' in their lives may use denial to avoid taking responsibility for it. They tend to blame others for their problems as they deny any responsibility.
ANGER as a stage of grief exists as an attempt to avoid the true underlying problem. We will unconsciously but deliberately pick fights or create negative situations in order to justify our behavior. We attempt to use control, complaining and negativity to tolerate our unhappiness, all the while hating ourselves for the ways that we are acting.
BARGAINING happens when the person is beginning to come to some realization that there is or might be a problem but to compensate they are working hard to try to continue to avoid fully facing the solution or reality of their circumstances. To bargain is to try to maintain control and continue to live without real change taking place. For addicts, this is the time for “Just give me one more chance and I promise I will never…” kinds of statements.
DEPRESSION marks the beginning of true surrender to the depth and meaning of the 'hurt, habit or hang-up' in our lives. No longer trying to assign blame or find a way out we begin to delve into the sadness and fear of not knowing ourselves as we thought we did.
ACCEPTANCE is then inevitable provided we stay in recovery. At this stage, we can now begin to see that there is a path laid out for our recovery which others have followed successfully. We can begin to entertain a new vision of how life will be lived without our 'hurt, habit or hang-up. New healthy recovery relationships and support have begun to replace isolation and lies. We begin to develop new ways of coping and managing our circumstances, often finding hidden creativity formerly lost in our 'hurt, habit or hang-up.
As we said before, we may not pass through all the stages tickety-boo but it is helpful to know that if I find myself in any of them that we're in a process that has an end result.................. ACCEPTANCE!.
Underlying all of these stages needs to be a developing trust in God, the power Higher than ourselves who loves us and will bring us through to our 'new normal'.
"For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him." Philippians 2:13