The difference can be as simple as the words you use to identify yourself.
Hi, I’m (insert name here) and I’m a recovering addict.
I hear this over and over from people who are years removed from substance abuse. People identifying themselves as recovering addicts although the obsession or desire to use hasn’t been alive for years. I used to just go along with them and self-identify the same way even though I didn’t truly believe it in my heart. After all, they’re just words and I wasn’t using so what the hell.
Until I’d relapse.
This viscous cycle continued for almost a quarter of a century until I finally realized…
Words are not just words. They are the labels we assign to the deepest meanings in our lives; the very things that make up those personal bibles we use to guide everything we do.
Recovery is defined in the dictionary as a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. Of course there are many more definitions just like every other word in our language but they all refer to returning to something. As far as I could tell, I never felt comfortable in my own skin. There possibly was a time when I was one or two years old but I don’t remember it.
I wanted to stop the pain and insanity of active addiction but beyond that, there really wasn’t a healthy, happy, strong place in my past that I wished to return to.
Recovery only took me so far.
Whenever I ask others how they view recovery, the vast majority refer to it as recovering from something. I realize today that is exactly what kept me stuck on the merry go round for years, decades, in fact.
When I looked at my recovery as moving away from something I was always looking in the rear view.
Imagine driving a Ferrari at 100 mph and staring in the rear view mirror the whole time. First of all, you probably wouldn’t even reach that speed before you crashed. That’s what happened to me time and time again in recovery. That’s why, today I use a different word to define this wild trip I’m on….
Seeing my life as one of transforming enabled me to look forward with curiosity and excitement. Watching each new adventure get larger and larger as it appears in my sights gets my blood pumping and allows me to shift into the next gear where staring back as the darkness fades from sight only took me so far.
We’re constantly transforming even as you’re reading this. Each minute about 300 million cells die and get replaced by the birth of new ones so, like it or not, you’re not the same person you were a minute ago. We’re constantly in this process of letting go of the old dead shit and replenishing it with stuff that’s new, fresh, and ALIVE, even though my brain sometimes likes to create illusions that we’re not.
There are many daily practices which I developed in recovery that I still use today as I continue to grow and transform because they are the foundation which supports this amazing dream castle I’m building. That being said, I didn’t come here to be a cellar dweller who hangs out in a dark and dusty foundation for the rest of my life.
But that’s just me…