Redefining Recovery

by Abby Leora Rohrer

In the Western world, to recover, or recovery, has lost its true meaning, at great loss to us. It has become synonymous with "one-day-at-a-time;" a grasping to maintain control, or remission, a grasping hope to remain in God’s grace. But what of its true and original meaning? Look in my dictionary and you will find recovery defined as, "to regain or reclaim oneself." While this certainly implies having lost oneself, there is no hint of a temporary nature in the reclaiming. And so it is in my experience. True recovery is not a temporary but a permanent state. Having authentically achieved it, you can no longer doubt the nature of its existence on the issue healed.

But as a culture we don't know how to get there. Twelve years ago, when I decided it was time for me to recover and reclaimed myself from the grips of 27 years of compulsive hair pulling, I've never doubted the profound and permanent nature of the road I had traveled.

I have walked the road again and again, truly healing issue after issue that had previously eluded me. And while I have never lost my recovery from hair pulling or the intense codependency that I also shed, I still sometimes feel the anxiety that I used to use these addictive distractions to quell. 

That leads me to ask, "Are addiction and compulsion such bad things anyway?"  (That's another whole article—I will have to write at some point--Destigmatizing Addiction and Compulsion)  They do exactly what they are employed to do—to keep the fear at least a bit at bay...until they don't anymore and we root around for a new coping tool to add to our tool belt. Eventually, if we are lucky, we become so weighed down by tools that we begin to fling them off one at a time.

Sometimes, even knowing the road, I lose my way. I forget how far I've come and the new improved tools I've gained along the path. Can I continue to choose to love and have great compassion for myself in the face of my humanness, in my failings and lack of perfection?

Sometimes I become lost in the ambiguity—if we are in fact all One—what is right and wrong? I lose my ability to judge.  I am caught in the dualities: black or white, right or wrong, up or down; what does it all really mean? Which leads me right back into healing. Because although difficult to express, using the energy of duality is exactly how I healed. Duality holds the key to authentic recovery—to permanent healing, to recover, if you know how to harness its power.

Duality is a powerful tool that the Universe has given to us for use in healing addiction and compulsion. I am talking about turning to and using the full energy of the ambiguity of your feelings in order to heal YOURSELF; or about not going to yet another outside practitioner to free you. For this is true recovery—FREEING YOURSELF.

I call to those of you who are weary of "one-day-at-a-time," weary of everything but the second idea in the Serenity Prayer, and who have the "courage to change the things you can."  It is more than possible to truly heal your addiction or compulsion, with courage and a little bit of guidance. Accepting the things you cannot change can come later, after you've healed, but for now, wind up your courage to heal—acceptance will come on your willingness to see the truth, which is a natural piece of the true healing journey. You are NOT powerless to recover from your hair pulling compulsion or addiction, unless YOU believe that you are. In fact, why not find out just how powerful you really are and begin to heal yourself now - to recover?

If you’re a hair pulling woman, you may wish to research TrichotillomaniaFree Women’s University where I teach the deeper lessons of how to stop your self-judgment and hair pulling for good.

If you’d like more help to stop hair pulling you can visit my 123TrichotillomaniaFree web site which discusses my book, What's Wrong With Pulling My Hair Out? It's a great place to begin. It is also available from this website and can be purchased right now using this order link.

If you’re an adult male hair puller or a woman hair puller without internet access who is ready to commit to your freedom, you may wish to consider the Pull-Free, At Last! System available at