What does recovery mean to me?
The dictionary defines recovery as a “restoration from sickness or a state of evil”, but I have come to understand its meaning as so much more. It is freedom from active addiction, an absolute change in perspective, and most importantly; a new way to live. I have learned that, although I came into recovery to stop using drugs I have gained so much more. The following is my experience of recovery working in my life and what it means to me.
The foundation of my recovery begins with surrender and my admission of powerlessness. This means that despite what my head tells me I don’t have all the answers that I need help to make consistently good decisions. Recovery teaches me that I need not fear surrender. For by admitting my powerlessness I am actually taking my power back. By making an effort to surrender daily to whatever situations may arise I have found that I do not struggle. However when I choose to live in self will I experience the consequences; such as having to write this one-thousand word essay. Fortunately recovery also teaches me that I seek spiritual progress, rather than spiritual perfection and thank-god for that. Everyday clean is a success for me.
I never imagined that in the process of trying to get clean I would be introduced to my Higher Power who I choose to call God for simplicity purposes. Prior to entering recovery I knew very little about spirituality and I certainly didn’t think it was something that I wanted or needed. Through practicing the principles of open-mindedness and willingness I have a connection with a God of my understanding today. I don’t know what it is exactly and it is a challenge for me to explain. What I can say for sure is that when I am feeling connected with God gratitude fills my heart and I feel okay in the moment. When I ask for God’s help I feel taken care of. When I listen for God’s answer I get what I need.
Recovery is the foundation for the set of principles that I am learning to live by today and their simple application as outline in the twelve steps. As an addict I can quickly get lost in the grips of my own self-obsession. The steps have taught me that if I want to keep what I have then I must be willing to give it away. That simply means to share what I have learned with someone else so that they can one day do the same. By carrying the message I am able to stay clean for another day. Prior to getting clean I had little concept of what it meant to be a good person. In recovery I have learned to live by spiritual principles, which I now understand to be the will of my higher power. When I live in God’s will I find that my perspective changes. In situations where I would usually run away from in fear I am able to have courage. In moments when I would usually respond with intolerance I am now able to practice tolerance.
As a result of working a program of recovery I have felt a change in myself and I have been able to witness this miracle happen in others as well. I have found that in pursuing positive change I am still able to maintain myself, while consistently working on being the best I can be on any given day. By taking suggestions I have experienced more freedom and happiness in my life and my desire to do the next right thing continues to become more natural. The small changes I experience on a day to day basis inspires me to continue learning about myself and growing as an individual in recovery.
Recovery has provided me with many unexpected gifts. Perhaps the most impactful would be the freedom I am beginning to experience. Initially I was only concerned with being freed from the uncontrollable obsession and compulsion to use drugs. Through recovery and working the program I have received that and so much more. Today I have a great deal of freedom from myself. This includes freedom from my self-defeating character traits, my self-obsession, and my negative core beliefs. I live one day at a time. I learn from yesterday and I have hope for tomorrow.
Recovery has restored my hopes, dreams, and goals. In my past there were many instances when I gave up and accepted that I would likely die as a result of my addiction and if I didn’t die I would live a life much worse than death. Recovery provides me with the inspiration I need. I am not afraid to set goals today because I know that if I live in God’s will and do the next right thing then anything is possible. I get excited about the possibilities for my future. I have always hoped to further my education and attend university. Something that was totally unobtainable in my addiction doesn’t seem at all impossible now. I have always struggled with moving past my fears and encompassing the motivation to take the necessary action. Recovery teaches me that it is okay to ask for help when I feel this way. My hopes and dreams continue to develop as I stay clean. I strive for so much more today than finding a way to one day drink socially or use successfully.
Finally recovery means fellowship and friendship. I spent most of my life not feeling a part of anything. I connected with other addicts when I was using and I continue to do that in recovery. Fortunately the addicts I connect with today are living in the solution, thus my relationships today are much more functional. I never knew what real friendship was due to my own self-centeredness. Today I understand it to be unconditional love and support. I never expected to form friendships that I deeply care for today but they happened despite me. The relationships I am cultivating in recovery with the women I have met are perhaps my most cherished gifts.
I have come to understand recovery as an umbrella that encompasses so many different concepts, beliefs, and principles. Most of which I did not predict when I made a decision to give this thing a try. I like results and when I do the next right thing and live in God’s will I experience them. I have very little money and very few of the things I want in my life but all of that aside I am still able to experience happiness. That is truly what recovery means to me and for that I am eternally grateful.
Women do recover, our alumni are proof.
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