If you were to look at the timeline of my life, there is a very distinct moment where my journey changes. Call it what you will, an event, a ‘rock-bottom’, or a rude awakening that occurred, but three years ago today, I was faced with a reality that I would not be able to run away from.
Every recovery story you hear will usually start with a situation that allowed that person to realize something needed to change in their life. Maybe recovery for them was a long time coming, and the last person to recognize a problem was the one with the problem, or maybe the person telling the story was just tired of the way they were living their life. Some people find the strength to change overnight, some will battle themselves until they cannot fight any longer, and others will surrender once they have exhausted all other options.
My choice to live in Recovery was not a decision I was pondering, nor was it a lifestyle that I was even entertaining at that point in my life. I was aware that I had a tendency to take it a bit far when it came to drinking, and there was not a substance that I would say no to if it meant that I would feel something outside of myself. Looking back, I am shocked at my level of ignorance towards my own addictive, and self-destructive tendencies. I was not able to live in denial of it any longer when I attempted to take my life three years ago today. Recovery, for me, was an abrupt realization that something had to change; that something being my life, and the direction that I was steering it.
There is a lot of information out there on the topic of recovery and how others have gone about their journey through it. There are programs you can become involved in, support groups you can join, and meetings you can attend. There is an endless amount of reading material to be found on the subject, and numerous memoirs that outline some of the darkest chapters of someone else’s life. To find out what worked for others is just one Google search away from discovering. What works for us, the individual, is a whole new kind of ‘search’ that only we can figure out over time.
Do I recommend Recovery to everyone? Absolutely. You do not need a drug or alcohol problem to need a recovery program in your life. There are all sorts of issues that one could struggle with; food, people, exercise, love, sex, technology, etc. It is up to US to decide if we need to remove something or someone from our life. Do I think that Recovery is easy? Absolutely not. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Why? Well, for one, it forces me to face what I spent a large chunk of my life running from. It makes me get honest with myself, and recognize the faults in my own ways. Recovery shows me the parts of myself that need the most work, improvement, and forgiveness. Of course, it was easier for me to drown out my thoughts with alcohol, or numb out the emotions I was not able to justify, or have validated. Before recovery, I was oblivious to the drivers of my actions. In recovery, I am becoming aware of what is steering my choices in life.
My recovery timeline looks a lot like an inconsistent line graph put together by a child who just discovered crayons for the first time. There have been months where I have felt the positive effects of the work that is required of recovery, but there are also large chunks of time where I feel as though I have plateaued, or even worse, slid backward in my progress. It is moments like this that allow my depression to take over and remind me that I cannot escape its tight grip on me forever. This is when it is extremely important for me to remember the tools I have acquired since choosing a life of recovery. Being brave enough to ask for help, talk to my therapist, call a friend, or even just sitting down to journal can be enough for me to climb my way out of a moment of darkness. Choosing recovery is not enough to solve our problems, but actively getting to the bottom of our fears, shame, and guilt will make our life brighter once we begin to climb ourselves out.
In the three years that I have spent working on myself, I have discovered many truths. Truths about who I am as a person, what I desire out of life, and what I am most afraid of. I have had to come face to face with my demons, see them for what they are, and learn how to befriend them instead of creating enemies within myself. I am having to teach myself how to express my emotions in a healthy manner versus suppressing them and allowing them to manifest into destructive behaviors. My recovery is many things. It can be peaceful, lonely, joyful, manic, safe, and dark. But above ALL else, my recovery is important and it has become the strong foundation I have started to build my life over with.
Recovery is a process. It is not one pace, nor is there a finish line for it. There is no competition for the ‘Best Recovery’ and there is not a specific ‘rulebook’ for how you must go about it. There is YOU, and the choice to get better. When we find ourselves in the throes of recovery, and we are not sure we will be able to stay afloat, remember that recovery ebbs and flows. It can often feel like a rush of waves that won’t let up, but what we will find in the end, is that recovery is just a series of waves only trying to wash you of what no longer belongs in your life. Trust in the process of it. Recovery is hard work, but it is hard work worth doing.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate you.