We ended our last chapter discussing Recovery, To Me and the critical aspects of my own self that were lost and that I needed to find (or recover) in order to live my life and be my authentic self. I'd like to take a moment to remind us of what we are are doing here, as this is by no means a finished draft. I am writing and publishing the outline to my second book every Sunday, even when I don't feel like writing at all. I'll be honest, that is exactly what is happening for me today. I am in the middle of midterm projects and to do's and I feel like I've had a lot of output, but no input (self-care/love/nurturing of self), so today will be short and sweet, but I will honour my commitment to publish a blog every Sunday.
We left last time with me stating that "for me, recovery was critical and finding a new way to live essential and that required turning my belief into action. For me, that meant quitting smoking, drinking and engaging in unhealthy relationships because that turns love and care for myself (my values and beliefs) into action. But, did that mean I had to call myself an alcoholic or an addict? Why couldn't I just stop drinking, smoking, etc? Why did I have to call myself anything? Or go anywhere?"
I don't know what it looked like for other people, but at the end of my addiction and beginning of my recovery, I was alone. I had people in my life that cared about me, but I couldn't be anything for them or myself. I didn't have anything to give, my heart and should were completely depleted. I was empty and alone and I didn't feel like anyone understood that feeling, until I went to my first 12 step meeting. Personally, I don't reveal my particular fellowship, to honour it's traditions, but I have no shame about being a person in long-term recovery. 12 step meetings were my foundation and although there were parts of it I could appreciate, I had no desire to stay for very long. That was until I continued to struggle enough in my recovery, that I became open to being around other people that had walked a similar path and seemed to live good, peaceful and productive lives that they enjoyed. There were some eccentrics, not gonna lie, but overall I found it very inspiring to be in a meeting and it stopped me from constantly thinking about myself, which can be a great relief, trust me! Today, I think of 12 step meetings and church as my spiritual foundation, I don’t have to go, but I find I have a healthier, more positive perspective on myself and the world, when I do. They are my gym for staying spiritually fit and my spiritual fitness is my best defense against against a relapse.
When I use the label of alcoholic/addict, it is within my 12 step recovery community, to identify and relate to the others in the room. When I do that, I humble myself. I remember where I cam from, when I couldn't stop doing what I was doing, no matter how much I wanted to or how smart I thought I was. Addiction doesn't care who you know, how much you know, how much you have, where you live, what you drive, who your parents are, etc, etc, etc. It doesn't care about you at all. It is the great equalizer and the closest thing I have personally seen to the devil, here on earth. It will steal, kill and destroy absolutely everything that you care about; family, friends and yourself, until you are emotionally, mentally and spiritually bankrupt and then it will finish you off, by finally killing you physically. It is evil. The most evil thing I have ever seen or known. So, when I say I am powerless against it, it means I surrender to that fact. I don't try to fight the devil because I will never win THAT fight. But what the devil can't stand (or whatever you consider an evil force) is when I say "Ok, you win" and then walk away from the fight.
That's how we win the fight against addiction. We admit we are powerless, but it's so much easier to say than do, but it can be done and it is done every day, all around the world. We have access to so many more resources than has ever been possible before. It is it's own kind of revolution of sorts.
I didn't give up my right to do what I wanted, when I wanted without a fight. If I could have continued to drink, smoke, etc AND have a good, productive and meaningful, spiritual life where I felt like a good mother, person, etc, TRUST ME, I would have done that. I liked my vices, A LOT. I am a worker bee and a thinker and when I used these vices, all of that stopped. My thinking stopped and I no longer cared about everything so much —it really was a great relief in so many ways. It's not that my addictions and vices didn't serve a purpose, they absolutely did. There were things about them that I still love and miss, but not as much as myself, my children, my work, my self-esteem, self-worth, soul and spirit. I can't have a good life AND use drugs and alcohol. I have to choose and I choose recovery.
What is being powerless to you? Does it mean being helpless? Or is it a way to find where your true power lies? How hard is it to admit to being powerless?
Let’s talk about unmanageability next time.
Frances Stone, Ms. Recovery Writes
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Chapter Four is Sunday, Nov 5
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Frances Stone is the Author of A Reflection of Love ~ A Different Kind of Love Story, a Recovery Counsellor and a Radio Co-Host of Talk Recovery Vancouver, a show about addiction and recovery issues, located in the DTES of Vancouver, BC. In her spare time, she does laundry and mothers three clever, curious and challenging little humans.