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Helping Alumni Create Positive Attitudes in Recovery

January 11, 2012
by Lori Obernauer
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This blog entry was written by Kim Murphy, Alumni Coordinator, Creative Care, Malibu. For more information, please contact Kim at If you'd like to share some news about Alumni Services at your treatment center for submission to this blog, please contact
Bravely Balancing Positive Attitudes & Negative Feelings in Recovery

As Alumni Coordinator at Creative Care, I have seen alumni struggle with the idea that because it’s been years since they’ve been to treatment or started recovery or therapy, they shouldn’t have the “negative feelings” that they do. Many professionals can likely relate.

This kind of thinking can start us down the “shame spiral” or what some have referred to as “feeling bad about feeling bad”. Going through a depressive episode, feeling sad for a yet unknown reason or grieving deeply can feel like failing, like we aren’t working our program hard enough or aren’t taking good enough care of ourselves.  Recovery literature often suggests, “changing our attitudes” while simultaneously directing us to allow our feelings in order to move on and not dwell on them.  This is not for the faint of heart and a licensed and qualified therapist to help guide us and help us to feel safe is recommended.

This endeavor can be tricky business.  However, in recovery, we are doing our best to live in reality and although no longer active in our “ism” or in the beginning of recovery, intensely painful feelings can continue to surface.  It may even be because of this recovery that we have access to deeply painful feelings for the first time. These may feel like deep anguish or mourning for something we have yet to identify.

I believe it is one of the most courageous things we can do to allow these feelings.  Feeling ashamed of having this experience can keep us from healing the most painful parts of ourselves. Recovery is not a destination.  It is a path taken by the very brave. 

“…when we long for a life without difficulties…remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” ---Peter Marshall


Lorie Obernauer

Alumni Coordinator at CeDAR (Center for Dependency, Addiction & Rehabilitation, University of Colorado Hospital

Lorie Obernauer

Lorie Obernauer, PhD, is the Alumni Coordinator at CeDAR (Center for Dependency, Addiction...

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