Five Things I Realized on my Journey to Recovery

Most of my recovery path started behind a keyboard.

Clear minded for the first time in longer than I wish to remember, my brain eagerly absorbed all there was to learn about addiction and recovery. Countless hours navigating the latest trends, epidemics and tragedies of the thousands of lives lost from this forbidden curse we call addiction. And just as much time was spent wandering through the myriad of pathways to recovery I never before knew existed.

But in no way would I recommend doing recovery alone. Isolation leads to what they call in treatment, stinkin’ thinkin. That deceitful little voice in your head that says everything will be alright so long as you just have one. I listened once, which was reminder enough that my brain no longer understands moderation.

1. Recovery thrives in community.

Perhaps with a sober mind, I discovered we actually enjoy creating meaningful relationships with others. Especially with people whose story looks like ours. Relating to someone with the same sorrow and heartbreak. To cheer them on with every milestone and pick them up when they fall. It’s nothing short of empowering. Especially when they begin to like themselves. And the same thing starts happening to us.

Friendship today is so much more than getting drunk together in a bar. Meaningless conversation bringing nothing but the passing of time while the poison erases the pain. I never understood the significance of “community” until I found an online recovery group where I discovered people who really were just like me. Similar stories, but various paths in how they got there. There’s a relief from the pain with support from “the broken” that a loved one’s embrace might never reach.

2. A discovery of a lost passion.

A relatable tribe allows us to seek a lost treasure perhaps only those in recovery truly find. A forgotten passion buried deep beneath the pain of our afflictions. A revival of our inner child, the one who loves to dance in the rain and finds joy in the unearthing of anything new. Discovering recovery blogs and online publications reminded me of the comfort I once found by writing away the worries of my broken past.

Starting my own blog helped me process the pain until shame and regret released their

stronghold. It keeps me focused on how far I’ve come and less tormented by my shaky past.  Laying to rest the dreaded nightmares and delving into dreams where my destiny awaits. My strongest tool in recovery has been reconnecting to my younger self. I’ve restored my joy by writing about the hopes of tomorrow instead of drowning sorrows of yesterday with a swig of a drink.

3. Using our passion to pay it forward.

Time in recovery can lead to complacency if not followed by action. I found myself thrusting about in stagnant waters, eagerly desiring to flow forward but not knowing how. Reaching beyond the solitude of a journal, I haphazardly plunged into the realms of public blogs and online publications, hoping my still small voice might someday reach the ears of the one who needs to hear.

And I don’t write as the face of a societally defined addict. I’ve never tried heroin and I haven’t been addicted to pain meds. I’m not homeless nor have I been jailed for my behavior while under the influence. But I write as a college educated woman who once seemed “normal” to the outside world. Balancing a career, marriage and play dates until one day I no longer could. The one who eventually slipped through the cracks after an episode of depression with a toxic combination of anti-depressants and alcohol that grappled with my sanity and temporarily misplaced my reason for living.

I know I’m not the only one whose fallen into the depths of hell while stuck under the curse of addiction. So in a hopeful way of giving back, it’s for the ones who see themselves in my story that I write.

4. Recovery must be nurtured in order to thrive.

I consider myself blessed to have finally found recovery, so I hold onto it with all my might. It’s far from a goal I check off my ‘to do list’ and move on to the next. Rather, it’s a continuous cycle of engaging in support systems and embracing new methods that enhance my life purpose. It’s a constant renewing of my mind, fueling of my body and soaking of my ever healing spirit.

And in nurturing who I am in recovery, I’ve discovered a love for myself I never thought possible. A love that allows me to forgive myself, provoking admiration not shame. A long awaited acceptance that breeds courage to not only survive, but to thrive in my recovery.

5. My recovery journey is ever changing. 

What worked for me a year ago is far different than what I strive for today. But the tools I’ve gained over these past 3 years are just what I needed in those moments.  So I take what resonates, leave what doesn’t behind and carry on. I have a feeling that’s the part of recovery that’s a constant regardless of our specific path. It’s a personal evolving journey that never ends. And for me, no “happy hour” compares to living in the present moment in recovery, embellishing all I love in my new life with renewed focus.

So find your passion. Connect with like minded people to build them up. Become stronger for it. And keep moving forward with that childlike freedom that brings enlightenment only someone in recovery truly understands.

A freedom I now long for daily that would have never been found in a bottle.

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