Tag Archives: self love

Being in Recovery

find yourself.png

Edit: Something I should definitely add, in the interest of not alienating people is this- there is 12-step recovery, and there are other types of recovery, as well. But ALL recovery means DOING THE WORK to be a better person than you were when you were using. If you are not actively engaging in the process of figuring out why and how you wound up where you are, then that is not recovery. If you are still using any substance to change the way you feel (and I’m not talking about anti-depressants here, to be clear), that is definitely not recovery. For ME, that means the traditional NA, AA, twelve step path. For you, it could be faith based or whatever floats your boat. But recovery is a specific thing, and you are either doing it or not. It’s not a halfway thing. THAT is the point I was trying to make.

Something that REALLY bothers me a lot is when people say they are “in recovery” when what they mean is that they stopped using a particular drug. Listen: You are not In Recovery if you stopped using meth or heroin but you still smoke weed or drink. You are not even in recovery if you practice abstinence completely, but you have never been to a meeting. Being in recovery (for me, for instance) means attending 12-step meetings regularly, and working those steps, with a sponsor. You can say you are clean, you are sober, or anything else like that if it pleases you. But don’t say you are in recovery, because you just aren’t.

Listen, I am not trying to downplay what anyone is doing to better their lives. If you can stop using hard drugs and find that you are someone who can drink responsibly, my God, that is GREAT for you, more power to you! But please, don’t confuse that with real recovery. It isn’t. Let me explain to you why that is-

Recovery is a lifestyle. It means committing yourself to something that is serious, time consuming, and really hard at times. My drug of choice was amphetamines. Do you know how often I toy with the idea that, because of that fact, maybe it would be okay if I drank occasionally? It crosses my mind a lot. Despite the fact that I have factual evidence that every single time I have been a responsible drinker it has eventually led me back to drugs at some point, I still continue to battle with these thoughts here and there. Maybe this is not the case for you, and hey, high freaking five on that. But it has been my experience that this is what we call a “yet” situation. I am not prepared to gamble with what I have earned.

Here’s the other thing: through my prolific years of drug use, I learned something really important. Addiction is not just about the drugs, and the shameful things that happen to us and because of us while we are using. It’s really about the people we are, the behavior we exhibit, and the deep seated self-loathing that basically all people with addiction issues have in common. People who have problems with addiction have problems with loving themselves. When you take away the drugs, the problems are still there. The drugs or whatever it is you are using to control the way you feel, and the way you show up in the world, are a symptom, they are not the real problem.

Recovery is how we get to the root of that problem. It’s like manual labor of a the spirit- there’s a lot of heavy lifting and digging, a lot of time spent in the dark with all of the things you fear the most. When you are in recovery, you make a decision to face all of the things you are terrified of looking at, and to do that, you have to dredge shit up, shine light on it, pick it apart, and learn how to dispose of it properly. And you do every bit of it with NOTHING to take the edge off, NOTHING to dull the pain, even when it sounds so good, you could almost cry.


Let me tell you, it’s a struggle sometimes. Do you know how hard it is to date when you are in recovery? I don’t have the option of loosening up with a drink, and thanks to my general anxiety over who I am, this would be welcome on a date, let me tell you. Do you know how much of a weirdo I feel like when I try to lightly gloss over the fact that I don’t drink to a guy who just cannot compute the concept? “But why?” he inevitably asks, or “You don’t drink EVER?” And it feels like I have grown another head, but you definitely don’t want to lead with a horror story of WHY you really don’t drink. And yes, I could just say I’m allergic to alcohol (lies) but, you know, I’d rather just not.

My point is, recovery is a very specific thing. It MEANS something to the people who take it seriously. The ones who are fighting to grasp it, to hold onto it, to incorporate the principles into their everyday lives. We aren’t just trying to stay clean, we are trying to use a set of instructions to become the best people we are capable of being. And it’s HARD, but it is good work, and it has rewards far beyond what I ever expected to receive. So please, respect the word recovery. And now, I shall get down off my soap box. Carry on.


More Normal Than Normal



It’s been a while since I have written- you may or may not have noticed this. There is a good chance that I find myself more important than you do…it works this way, sometimes. I have set my timer for thirty minutes, and taken an oath to go clean my disaster of a bedroom- thoroughly, for once- as I suspect this may be the root of my current trouble. My current trouble, in case you are wondering, seems to be a total lack of interest in…being awake, pretty much.

I would say I may be teetering on the edge of depression, if it were more consistent. There’s a chance that I am just worn out, and tired of my slobbish ways, and frustrated with myself for showing little improvement in this one area of my life. It gets super old, never knowing where the hell anything is, losing your keys and your sunglasses, your shoes, and entire ensembles in the abyss of your bedroom. I am a little afraid of what this says about me, as a person, this inability to clean up my act…in this one way. But the thing is, get me out of here, this crappy little house, and I am fine. At least this cloud of dust and disarray doesn’t follow me out into the world.

I am trying to go easy on myself. In the past two months, I have laid to rest some serious shit that I have carried around with me for WAY too long. The burden of addiction (the drug one, anyway) is no longer mine to carry, for now. That broken relationship that kept me stuck for many years, I set that free, too. So why, then, can I not sustain that perfect, blissful happiness that was mine all these previous weeks?

I think the simple answer is this: that is just not a sustainable feeling, over the long term. I am a human being, and as such, I can grow used to ANY feeling- happiness, sickness, sadness, anger. I can carry any of those around with me, and eventually, not notice that I am carrying them at all anymore. It’s as unfortunate on the bad side as it is on the good- I mean, don’t you think? As miserable as I was as an active drug addict, much of my time was not spent in awareness of this misery. It just was. So, in the same way, nothing here has really changed- I have just adjusted to this new gift of beautiful, blessed freedom. It feels normal to me already.

This is why, as humans, we must continually set the bar a little higher, find new aims, new adventures, new hopes and new aspirations, when we get somewhere we have been trying to go. It is okay to revel in it for a while, but for me, at least, I need to continue striving for the next big thing. For me, as a person with addiction issues, I think it is especially important not to stagnate, not to rest on my laurels, not to stop searching for the next thing that takes my breath away.

Addicts are a funny bunch. It occurred to me, while driving home this afternoon, that maybe drug addiction is a lazy way of being different…think about it, before you immediately dismiss the whole idea. Most of the people I know who are in recovery, and same for the ones who are not in recovery in ANY sense of the word, do not suffer from lack of intelligence. They are a smart bunch of people with a rebellious streak a mile wide, nine times out of ten. Nonconformists. Different, weird, odd…on and on. 

Now, bear with me, because I haven’t thought about this long enough to really present my argument in the most persuasive light…but can you see where I am coming from? If you KNOW you are different, and you know it at an early enough age to have spent years, already, being bothered by it by the time alcohol, or drugs of any sort, come into the picture…but before you have a chance to grow up enough to know that maybe there is a better outlet for your wackiness…wouldn’t the drug culture seem like a perfect fit? Wouldn’t it seem like a relief to find your home among the weirdo’s?

Wow. I just found myself getting a little choked up while writing this, and I will tell you why. I have nearly normaled myself to death over the past few weeks, people. I had my mom here last weekend, and spent a lot of time with her, and a lot of time with my various friends, and I did a lot of “normal” stuff, and I am still recovering from all of it. The pointed truth is this- I am different. I have always been different. And it is hard on me to be anyone else, although I certainly do try. I had a dinner party at my house that just about did me in…because it is so incredibly stressful for me. It never goes the way I picture it in my head. The house is never clean enough, and I am never cheerful enough, and it always ends with me wishing I had gotten it right.

I am who I am, only now it is without the excuse of any substance. This is just me, trying to figure out how I can become more like the person I imagine myself to be in my head. Maybe the secret to that is that I can’t. Maybe I need to accept that there are actually some limitations to what I can accomplish, right now, from this spot. Perhaps next week the possibility will reveal itself to me. I don’t know. But, in case you are wondering, there is no part of me that would trade even this unpleasantness (that really isn’t all that unpleasant at all) for the oblivion I once sought daily. No way.

And with that, I must go. I have a room to clean.