• Matt Billas

Caught in the Act

By: Matt Billas


Early on in recovery, I learned that to gain back control of my life, I’d need to relinquish what remaining semblance I had of it to others first. That’s a tall ask for a child, even harder for an adult. Control was my comfort, my way to cope, but also my downfall.


It started with direct commands:

  • You need to do this!

  • Don’t do that!

Every step tracked; every meal logged. Like a lab rat under constant scrutiny, no room for failure; and for good reason. Failure was another admission to the hospital…or worse.


Gradually commands became advice, reminders, and helpful nudges:

  • Maybe you should have a snack?

  • How about you open a shake or protein bar?

  • Have some more?

While it wasn’t a command, it was as hard to stomach as one or even harder. My inner voice shouted, pleading in reply:

  • Look what I’ve done!

  • I am trying hard!

Thoughts like these manifested physically in countless eye rolls, resistance, raised voices, complaints against incessant nagging; a difficult situation for both the advisor (e.g. my wife, family, therapist, doctor) and the advisee (aka me).


More recently I’ve noticed another transition in recovery, perhaps even my own stake or dare I say control in the process:

  • I should have more…

  • I should exercise less…

  • I am capable of more!

It’s nice to get that sense of control in my recovery back, but scary and difficult all the same. The onus is on me. That’s not to say I no longer have or need help or support, but rather if I am in control, I better step up and seize it; and even more so, not lose it again. Control isn’t simply the freedom to choose, but also the freedom to not choose something detrimental to recovery. Freedom of choice; freedom from self.




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