“All children, except one, grow up.” These are the infamous opening words of the beloved children’s story Peter Pan written by Sir J.M. Barrie. Peter Pan rivets the years to of children from one generation to the next promising a delightful playland called Neverland where one never has to grow up. Puer eternis is the psychological term given to “peter pan syndrome”. If children knew that latching on to the idealized notion of not growing up were to turn into a syndrome they might not be so attracted. Addiction and substance abuse is said to halt development when it starts. Some people start abusing drugs and alcohol at a very young age. Others start at “normal” ages in late teenage to early twenty years. One thing most addicts and alcoholics relate about is having an issue with being a “grown up”, whatever it is that’s supposed to mean. The childlike disregard for consequences, responsibility, rules, manners, and even goals, becomes a detriment to their lives rather than a dreamy state of immortality.
Thankfully, being childlike and being a grown up aren’t mutually exclusive. The lyrics of the lullabye song Neverland from the musical version of Peter Pan describe the place as somewhere not on a map but a living entity and spirit which lives inside your heart. Your sense of wonder, adventure, curiosity, innocence, and imagination need never be spoiled by the weight of acting more grown up. Through recovery you gain many of these attributes back in an authentic and pure way- without the use of pixie dust, quite literally. However, learning to show up to live life on life’s terms, and creating a life which works for you, is part of being a grown up, and, though it might not sound like it, is actually a gift of recovery.
You Don’t Have To Get Ready Because You’re Mostly Ready
Through recovery you learn how to be present, alert, aware, and mindful. You don’t have to go to any great lengths, like a good pre-gaming session, to get yourself ready for anything. As you are in each moment is acceptable and as it is to you. With love and compassion you meet yourself where you are at.
Having Adventures Is Cool, So Is Staying Home
It’s true, only old boring people stay home. Grown ups also learn how to take care of themselves. It’s a matter of evolution which makes you a little more tired, a little more in need of rest, and without that jovial insatiable energy. You can still have the grandest adventures Peter would write Wendy about, but you can also lay low without being a fidgety mess.
Taking Care Of Yourself Doesn’t Require A Mother
Laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, paying bills, paying rent- all the tedious tasks in life become your tasks to handle. Overtime you learn to handle them with grace. You don’t need to seek outside sources of help, validation, or support to do what you are capable of doing.
Home Is Where The Heart Is
You get to create home everywhere you go. Letting go of the ideal of a perfect home when you simply didn’t have one is important for healing. Through therapy you become your own parent, create your own home, and have peace with you, everywhere you go.