The Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK Day) holiday comes around once a year in January. This day also celebrates his birthday, a time to stop and think about his legacy of peace and nonviolence. Racial equality was only one of MLK’s great goals. He also focused attention on poverty and war. Although his legacy seems to focus on desegregation, he inspires everyone, including those in recovery, to take heart and have courage in the midst of challenges. He faced many risks and challenges in his lifetime. Find out why his words still inspire today and how it can have a positive impact for women in recovery.
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”
This quote has a deeper meaning beyond simply taking steps forward in life. Recovery is a series of steps, leaps, falls, and rebounds. There is no recovery without taking the first leap of faith. It may seem like falling down to get back up, but much of MLK’s legacy was this way. He marched for equality and fought for justice, all the while knowing he may lose his life. People fight addiction every day, even in recovery, knowing they may lose their lives. Women struggle against oppression in many areas, even recovery because there is stigma attached. Women who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are seen a certain way by society. Getting help, including mental health support, is not seen as being strong. It is a sign something went very wrong and now they are trying to fix what is broken. The truth is, nobody with addiction is broken. Just as MLK fought for justice and rights of the oppressed, whose lives were not broken, they simply needed help. They needed society to look at them from a new lens that says their lives matter, even if people may look the other way. Don’t look at the whole staircase and be worried. Just make the first step. Baby steps, one step at a time. Every step gets a person in recovery closer to being more sure of themselves in recovery, resting in confidence they can endure hard things and still prevail.
“If you can’t fly then run if you can’t run then walk if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
This quote speaks right into the heart of recovery. Women in recovery are typically dealing with mental health challenges, past trauma, possible polysubstance use, and myriad other things. To learn how to fly takes courage and time. Addiction clips women’s wings. It makes it hard to feel like they will ever be able to soar after falling time and time again. To themselves and their loved ones, they may feel like they have not lived up to their potential. Whenever they try to run, they stumble; when they try to walk, they fall; when they try to crawl, they fall flat. The most courageous step a woman takes is admitting the need for help. It is not easy, but it gets their foot in the door after the long, slow crawl to recovery. Even if they can’t fly right away, they can learn how to begin again. This time with a new set of wings, a new focus on life and an attitude focused on being the best version they can be.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
MLK was known as an intellectual, a professor, and a pastor who could speak to almost any audience. Addiction feels like an audience of one, wrestling with both inner and outer challenges that keep coming fast and furious at them. Finally, after so many disappointments, women in recovery may give up trying to seek help because it seems hopeless. MLK encourages women in recovery to see that no hope is lost if disappointment is accepted as part of the journey. Just as recovery is a journey, so is the pathway of addiction. Though nobody would choose it, it found them and now the person can choose to embrace it as part of their journey or risk losing hope. MLK says not to lose heart – the journey never ends but hope still wins.
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.”
Recovery is all about attitude adjustments, shifts, and personal growth. Dr. King realized that to solve the problems of human existence, women have to become different. They have to stop believing what others tell them about themselves. In spite of their addiction, they are still standing. In spite of their experiences, here they are seeking help and moving forward. MLK himself struggled with many periods of severe depression and psychiatric illness. From these challenges, his empathy grew for others. He determined that his personal life and politics would reflect this empathy, an outpouring of love towards others. He forgave those who hurt not only him, but generations of people enslaved, tortured, and harmed by racism and oppression. Forgiveness, he said, is not just about a one time deal; it is an attitude adjustment people make over the course of their lifetime. In recovery, women learn the tools to turn their negative thoughts into healthy thinking patterns. By being more forgiving of themselves and others, they learn how to let go of harm they’ve done (and harm caused to them) to look ahead with expectant hope.
MLK’s legacy still stands today on its own merits. His life and words inspire women in recovery to be courageous in the face of their challenges. Although they may face oppression, stigma, and pain, keep taking one step forward in faith, believing recovery is worth the journey.
Casa Capri Recovery is designed for women who are struggling with addiction to find hope and a purpose. We provide a holistic treatment model that helps women be vulnerable in a small, intimate community with other women looking to heal. Our therapists are trained to support trauma-informed care and nutrition is a key part of our recovery model. If you are looking for community and connection in rehab, call Casa Capri Recovery today: 844-593-8020
Melissa Holmes Goodmon, Founder & CEO of Casa Capri Recovery, obtained her BA in Psychology and is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor (LAADC) specializing in women’s core issues. She is recognized as a leader in the field of mental health and substance abuse recovery where she has been an advocate since 2006.