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Posted Feb 22 2010 3:39pm


The other week in Pennsylvania, we had a couple of huge snowstorms. The first happened over the weekend so our family hunkered down, watched some movies, sent our dogs out to play in the snow and just hung out together. Then a big storm hit on Wednesday.

The kids’ school was cancelled, but my husband and I headed to the Clinic. Other staff members were rescheduling appointments, we wanted to help cover any questions. Once the snow started, it came down at about an inch an hour. And yet, for unclear reasons, the two Dr. Levines, my husband and myself, stayed and worked. It was hours later before we headed home.

I drive an SUV so we didn’t anticipate any problems. I have made it, in previous snowstorms, up our road and driveway as snowmobiles flew past me. So it was with some “hubris” as my husband said that we delayed heading home and didn’t believe we would have any trouble.

The first indication that we were wrong about “no trouble” was soon after starting for home. First clue? There weren’t any other cars on the road. Everyone else had stayed home. Second clue? Snow blowing so wildly that we were in occasional whiteout conditions. But it was when we tried to turn onto a road near our house, found it unplowed and couldn’t get over a built up pile of snow, that the truth started to dawn. We were in trouble! We wound our way around other back roads, down shifting to avoid skidding. We climbed the steep hill near our house, driving in the middle of the road, following wheel tracks of other intrepid souls. When we turned into our street, following the wheel tracks of a pick-up truck and then found that truck stuck, we were concerned, but still deluded enough to believe—he got stuck, but we won’t. We pulled around the truck and came to a complete standstill.

Luckily our neighbor got his tractor and plowed a path for us. We got to our driveway and then our kids came out and helped shovel us home.

Why bring this up?

It feels like it relates to recovery in a number of ways.

First, is “hubris” hindering your progress? Do you find that you approach recovery with the viewpoint that we approached the snow and getting home? “Oh, that won’t be a problem. Everyone else might get stuck, but we won’t.” If a trigger, which seems to stop many people in their tracks, is looming in your future, don’t approach it with the same hubris that we had. Make plans, get support, acknowledge the challenge and ensure that you have support and tools to deal with the trigger. The only reason we got home was through the good will of our neighbor and his snowplow. We should have planned more, listened to the weather more, and not believed ourselves invulnerable.

Second, gather supports and accept help from others. We were lucky that our neighbors were there to help. And we graciously and happily accepted their help. Be willing to rely on others.

Third, know when to accept a certain challenge and when it will be too much. Clearly in recovery, you have to challenge yourself. Yet it is important to not take on challenging situations sooner than you feel ready for them.


  • Journal about any situations where you downplayed the impact they would have. What was hard about the situation? What happened? What kinds of supports did you have in place? What other things could you have done to make the situation easier?
  • Journal about how it feels to gather support from others. Some people find it very hard to accept help from others. They have a hard time accepting help or compliments. Some people feel that they should be able to do everything themselves. Do any of these thoughts hinder your progress? Journal about them and see if they might be limiting you from getting help. Do you really need to turn help down?
  • Journal about triggering situations so that you can identify them. Maybe rank them. Understanding how challenging a situation will be can help you identify the supports that you’ll need. It can also help you reflect on whether you’re taking on too big a challenge at this point in time.

Gather your thoughts, your supports and Write On!

Martha Peaslee Levine, MD


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