Recovery is marked by changes. Transformative changes. Basically, in recovery, you are re-learning how to live— you are building a new lifestyle that is free from the constraints of drugs and alcohol. In recovery, you will be discovering more and more about yourself and your character, goal-setting, and taking in different coping skills and tools that will help you in your new sober life, among other things. This seems hard, but the reality of it is, if you went through addiction— recovery will pale in comparison. The best part of recovery, is that you will never again have to feel the despair and pain you felt in active addiction.
Arguably the best thing you will gain from the recovery process is manageability. You will be able to gain confidence in yourself and realize your capabilities, employ coping skills and use tools like a support network to help you through any obstacle you face. You will be able to handle situations as they present themselves; you will gain a sense of manageability in your life that you haven’t had for the duration of your addiction, or maybe have never had. All of this is great, but most impactful for me was just believing that I would come to a place where I actually enjoyed my reality. You will no longer feel the overwhelming need to escape from your reality, instead you will feel like your reality is easy to navigate.
When it came to getting sober, I had this notion that taking drugs out of my life would solve all of my problems. I had this distorted view that drugs were the only problem I had, and never even considered that there may be issues that were underlying my addiction. So, what happened when drugs were taken out of the equation? I was still discontented. I was still looking for ways to take myself out of reality. Whether it be by anything from sleeping to adhering to position of straight up denial, I was looking to escape.
I took a look around me, at all the people who were there to help me, and brainstormed ways I could manipulate them into thinking that I was fine, maybe I could convince them that my only problem was my drug of choice too. I was already convincing myself the same thing. My plan was to get out of the “too real” situation that was staring me in the face.
The more I learned, and the clearer my brain got, the easier it was for me to come to at least a half-willing place. I reached a point where I started to think “okay, maybe these people are kind of right. Maybe I need to work on myself. I can use this time to better myself and get a hold of my life, then maybe I can do drugs after getting my sh*t together”. I said half-willing, remember. It was insane that after being completely broken down by my addiction, being absolutely powerless over drugs, and could not— for the life of me- manage my own life, I still was only half-willing to do the whole recovery thing. As my brain got clearer, I began to realize how insane my train of thought and behaviors were.
After some clarity, I realized I needed to change my life. Sometimes this happens for people in a single moment, maybe overnight, but in my experience it took some time to reach this place. I am incredibly stubborn after all. Only after I had completely put my own reservations to rest, could I focus on recovering.
Finally, I started working with therapists to understand a lot of things in my life that were unresolved, things that were plaguing my current reality. Other than challenging, there’s only one other word I can use to describe this experience: rewarding. I finally understood, I finally started gaining insight that showed me truly why I am the way I am, why I think the way I think, why I behave the way I behave.
It was eye-opening to say the least. I was ready to give recovery my all, I was ready to start living in a way that didn’t prompt me wanting to escape my life. That was really all I wanted, my bar was set low— but that bar continued to raise itself the better I got. The more I put into my recovery, the more I got out of it.
Slowly, I started to gain different perspectives. I started to understand things in different ways, and that helped me “see the light” so to speak. I began doing the right thing, I began putting an effort into recovery and its process. I started networking, going to meetings, working the steps. I started doing small things like meditating for five minutes each day. I started to use the insight from therapy to question any questionable thoughts or behaviors brewing. I started doing things to help myself, and then I realized my life was suddenly getting better.
Though emotionally intense, the processes I was going through left me feeling more capable than ever. I started to handle obstacles with a series of small, achievable tasks. I started to get through things that I once used drugs over. I started doing things the “right” way, or the better way, and from that manageability came confidence. I felt in control of my life, for once. I felt like I could handle anything, no matter what it was. I felt like I was starting to understand what all the overly-happy sober people around me were talking about.
And then the craziest thing happened, I would feel grateful and rewarded for things that I once overlooked. Things like reaching my destination and getting inside, just missing the rain. Things like a movie I hadn’t seen in forever being played on television. Things like finding a pair of fuzzy socks at the supermarket. Small, inane things that brought a sense of gratitude. I started to notice these things, and rack them up in my brain. I felt like I was getting rewarded for doing the right thing. So… I just kept doing the right thing.
After a while, I started to gain things that were invaluable to me, like stronger relationships with my family members, good friendships, contentment, confidence, manageability, even happiness.
Sobriety to me was not attractive in the early stages of my recovery process. To be completely honest, it wasn’t something I even wanted. I thought sobriety was stupid, I thought it was unrealistic, I thought if everything else was different than maybe doing drugs would somehow be sustainable. As I kept “trudging the road to happy destiny” as put in the Big Book of Alcoholic’s Anonymous, I started to realize that sobriety was actually amazing. It made me into a better person, a person that I liked more than any other version of myself that I’d met. It all seems corny, but I really do believe that recovery isn’t for the weak, it takes a strong person to embrace the recovery process in all of its stages. It takes someone who has a desire to try a new way of living, one that coincidentally is much better.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, please reach out to us at 877-RECOVERY or (877)-732-6837. Our team makes themselves available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because We Care.