When I began my journey of recovery I had no idea that it would lead me here.
First- Let me explain something. When I say recovery, I am not talking about sobriety, though for me this has been an essential chapter in my lifes story. When I say recovery I am talking about the process of becoming healthy.
Far from just the removal of drugs and alcohol in my life, this journey has taught me self love, self respect, and self appreciation. It was easy for me to stop using the substances that altered my mind. Everything that came after that was the difficult part. I had to look myself in the mirror, face my demons and choose to honor my inner goddess with every decision I made instead of choosing the path of least resistance.
I believe that in order to be truly successful, not just in recovery but in life, you have to do the work. I didn't just wake up one day and stop drinking or drugging my life away. I woke up one day and decided that what I have been doing no longer aligned with my ultimate goals. The fight doesn't start when you rid your body of whatever toxins you've been pumping into it. It starts when you give yourself the permission to begin to vulnerably explore why you chose to do those things. The physical addiction though it exists, is not the problem. The true issue at hand is the addiction is to escape, to chaos, to fear.
The problem that society has is that we wait until the extreme happens to make a change. We wait until the addiction to these mind altering substances have created such disarray in our lives that we can no longer live in 'normalcy'. When in reality, recovery is not black and white. Its not drugs or no drugs. Recovery is living your life in a way that honors your authentic self.
Unfortunately for most, the motivation for change, for recovery, is only found in these places of extreme. Ill get sober when... Ill quit my job when... I'll leave this unhealthy relationship when...
I was no exception to this. I had plenty of opportunities to change my life, but the pain did not outweigh the risk, so I stayed stuck. I chose to continue down the path of least resistance. I thought finding happiness was unrealistic. I searched for connection in all of the wrong places. I did whatever I could to fill the void of self hatred. I allowed toxic people, places and things to consume me if it allowed me some sense of peace. It wasn't until I was sitting in a jail cell at barely 21, that I was forced into the shift.
When I got clean I was told I needed to go to meetings, I needed to find a sponsor and that I need to work the twelve steps or my recovery would be in jeopardy. The thing is, though I was physically addicted to drugs, my true addiction was to connection. I craved people. I craved relationships and I had convinced myself that if I had no one, I was no one. So when I joined AA it gave me opportunity to replace the void my addict family had filled, with a new group. Though their mission was good, my toxic lack of identity and codependency laid the foundation for this experience to be come just as detrimental to me as my substance abuse had. AA provided me with the perfect opportunity to lose myself in the process of connecting to this idea of recovery. When I left AA I was forced to figure out who I was.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying anything negative about the AA recovery process, I'm just saying it wasn't for me. My recovery required me to become an individual instead of involving myself with another group. This was a theme through out my life. I lost myself in church, partying, AA, whatever I could find. I spent my entire life jumping from inner circle to inner circle, never taking the time to stop and explore my self. I had to step away from the idea of what I was told recovery, and my life, should look like and step into self.
So I left AA, I left church, I left the partying and the toxic relationships- I left it all. When I did this, when I removed myself from the identities I allowed others to give me, it was lonely, it was painful, it was scary. But most importantly it was my birth. I learned what I liked and didn't like. I learned what MY recovery looked like. I spent time with myself. I made a list of all of the things I wanted to do- big and small- and started crossing things off. Things like going to a movie alone and taking Amtrak across america by myself.
I don't like to count my sobriety day by the last day that I chose to use whatever drug of choice was at my disposal. I choose to count my recovery by the day I decided to commit to the transformation of my life. The day I stepped away from the toxic people, places and things I allowed to consume me.