One characteristic of Active Addiction is the delusion of invincible control.  People who are actively abusing a substance or engaging in a risky and harmful behavior tend to operate under the belief that they won’t get hurt, that they can handle whatever comes their way and that they can control what happens.
Generally speaking, they are incorrect.  Eventually everything falls apart.
One characteristic of Dormant Addiction, just before relapse, is a mindset of high performance and high control.  It’s actually very similar to the mindset of Active Addiction.  The person tends to think that they can, or should, be doing such-and-such many activities, accomplishing such-and-such particular Herculean feat, sustaining such-and-such impossible high standards, and always feeling happy about it.  There was a bliss associated with early recovery as well as a burst of energy and motivation.  In a way, that burst became the new high.  People tend to think they can maintain that high indefinitely.
Generally speaking, they are incorrect.  Eventually, everything falls apart.
Actually what happens is the person settles back into a normal state of mind.  Normal looks like feeling happy some of the time, but also feeling angry and sad and scared and indifferent in due course of time.  Normal looks like accomplishing some things, but not everything.  Maintaining higher standards than before, but not attaining perfection.  Doing a lot of things with average skill or a few things with good skill, but not able to to everything with expert skill.  In short, they are human.
But after the highs of active addiction, and after the high of early recovery, normal life can feel like a crash.
In both cases, the person’s limits are a significant factor.  When in active addiction, the limits ignored were what the body could handle, what relationships could tolerate, what the legal system would allow.  Things like that.  In Dormant Addiction, the limits ignored are again, what the body can handle, what the body can achieve, how much activity can be crammed into twenty-four hours.
For example.  Some of my dormant addict limits.  I can only be awake sixteen or seventeen hours every day.  I can only effectively handle five or six client interactions every day.  I can only go a day or so without exercising, and barely a day without spiritual practice.  I cannot go without food.  I cannot go more than a day without a nurturing interaction with a friend.  That’s different than my necessary interaction with my partner.
These are my limits.  If I ignore them and exceed them, I begin to crack.  I become very angry, anxious, and depressed.  My body hurts, my thoughts are muddled, and I start thinking the world is absurd and meaningless.  I think about giving up.
Limits are important for health.  That is to say, knowing one’s limits is essential for good health.
If you ignore your limits in Active Addiction, your problems just get worse.  This makes sense because it’s generally pretty obvious.
Likewise, if you ignore your limits in Dormant Addiction, you think you’re doing great, but really you’re only wearing yourself out in the pursuit of high performance.  You haven’t actually recovered from addiction, nor have you actually dealt with any issues.  You’ve only replaced drug usage with good deeds, accomplishments, and a rigorous routine.
So then, the way of peace and wholeness is to know yourself and know your limits.  If you know what you can handle, you can do it well.  If you know what you cannot handle, you can avoid it, or prevent it.
Knowing and staying within your personal limits means accepting that you are not and cannot be perfect.  You cannot and should not do every good thing that comes your way.  It means that sometimes you will not do things as well as you would like.
But that’s ok.  Perfection is not the way of peace.  Peace and wholeness are found in the process of growing, healing, and becoming.  Peace is about the journey, not as much the destination.
May you be free of addictions.  May you be free of unrealistic standards.  May you find peace and wholeness in every moment of your journey…

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