Four Years of Recovery and Forever to Go!

Where to start. Well for one, I have been staring at this blank page for a solid hour thinking to myself, ‘What can I say that will inspire someone else?’ and then I follow that thought up with, ‘Stop that. Write from your heart, speak your truth, and allow whatever to spill onto the page spill out.’ Ready? Here’s the truth…the more I learn the more I realize I don’t have a clue about anything. I see now that it’s more about unlearning; the undoing of ingrained patterns I picked up when I was too little to know the difference; the reshaping of perspectives that were never mine in the first place; the rebuilding of a life I wasn’t living for myself. Sure, I am on year four of recovery, but it’s also important to mention that I have forever to go. This past year has been tougher than year one in a lot of ways, and I am not here to tell you that it gets easier. I am here to tell you that it gets manageable if you put the work in and make an effort to really get honest with yourself…that’s the hard part after all.

We are always able to look back in hindsight and see the progress made, and the lessons learned, but boy can it be painful when in the middle of what feels like the worst of times. How do we realize this in the moment? (No, seriously, how?) There is a naïve part of me that likes to believe one day it will just happen. The sadness will dissipate, the depression will never come back, and I won’t ever pass another flower again without admiring its beauty. The truth of the matter is I still spend too much time in my own head and it’s because of this that I often pass by the beautiful flower without realizing the moment is where I need to be. The moment is the only place that we exist, and yet here I am, trying to analyze some part of my past, or control some part of my future. It’s very exhausting, and even through watching myself type that out, you would think I would be able to change that part of me, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over time, and thus, I have forever to go.

I made a couple of big decisions within this past year of my recovery, and one was to travel down to Peru to partake in Ayahuasca ceremonies. For those of you that have not heard of this, it is an ancient plant medicine that has been used for centuries to heal people of what ails them. Whether it be on a physical, spiritual, mental, or emotional level, every individual has a unique experience; one that is hard to put into words. I first heard of this medicine when I first got sober and it was immediately something I felt called to do when the timing felt right. That time came this year. The type of healing that occurred there was unlike anything I have ever experienced. It was truly a lifetime of psychotherapy in a week’s worth of time. I must point out that it does not do the work for you. Ayahuasca shows you parts of your life that need mending, and it is up to you to integrate those lessons into your everyday life. It brought forth memories that were stored in my unconscious that were making me act out in self-destructive ways. It showed me parts of my journey that have been repressed but allowed me to change the narrative of the story that was playing in the background. It walked me through trauma my brain did a good job of protecting me from, and the medicine forced me to feel emotion I had pushed aside because I grew up thinking that feelings were bad. It showed me what unconditional love felt like, and there was a mantra I picked up after the second ceremony that said, “You are whole, you are safe, you are Love” and it’s these words I repeat to myself when the darkness won’t go away as easily. It was a life-changing experience, but it many ways, it was just the beginning to my healing. Leaving there, I had felt this sense that I was cured of my depression, but the past few months have been a reminder that it can show up when I am not paying attention to the work within myself that needs to be done. Let’s not forget, I have forever to go.

Another big decision I made this year? I have chosen to be ‘homeless’ in an attempt to find a place that gives me a sense of ‘Home’. I am not exactly sure what I am looking for, but I believe that I will know when it feels right. I have spent most of my life feeling out of place and disconnected from those around me. It’s no wonder to me now why I latched onto drugs and alcohol as a way to escape myself. I was convinced that I was the thing that was wrong. I never took the time to think that maybe I was just in need of something more. So far, this part of my journey has felt lonely. I have always been one to isolate and although a lot of that stems from me being an only child, I am slowing but surely starting to see that what I desperately crave is a sense of community. I felt that while down in Peru. It was so easy for me to be exactly who I am, surrounded by others who were also in search of something greater. Maybe this is just a symptom of living in modern society. I often look around and find it hard to get along with the times. It’s very clear to me that many of us are in pain and too afraid to look deeper into that. So, as a result, we distract ourselves because filling our time with things is easier than filling our time with silence. I am currently living in a treehouse with no internet connection, and you would be amazed at the lengths I go to escape the moment. Silence is LOUD. It will gladly show you all the ways in which you are in pain, which is precisely the reason why I am subjecting myself to it. I do not want to run from it anymore, I want to befriend it, heal from it, and learn to dance with the pain in a graceful way. I have let go of the idea that I can get rid of it entirely because, in regards to recovery, I have forever to go.

One thing is for sure, this journey is messy. But when we can take a step back we will see that this whole time we have been painting a much larger picture. In some areas, there are bright colors that represent the periods filled with light, splotches of grey that felt numb and lifeless, in other sections we will find the darkness we lived through, but when we see it all together, we can recognize that each color shows the range in which we feel and go through life. Overall, it’s beautiful, and we need the contrast to be grateful for the positive emotions we experience. If there is one thing I am focused on learning throughout my recovery, it’s to appreciate the ability to feel. You cannot numb the bad parts away without giving up the good ones as well. No matter what part of the painting you are in currently, it is all for the bigger picture when it is all said and done.

Today marks four years of my recovery and I am looking forward to the forever I have yet to go.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate you.

Megan Lawrence