January 26th will be my one year anniversary of being in recovery. As far as I’m concerned, this has been the best year of my life. Sure, it wasn’t the funnest, the easiest, or the most peaceful year. But as far as my well being is concerned, this has been my most productive year ever.
My first year in addiction recovery has been filled with many ups and downs, many ebbs and flows, many steps forward…and a couple of steps back. What is the most important thing I’ve learned? Stumble don’t fall.
For anyone who is not familiar with my blog from the beginning, you missed me going through some rocky times in my recovery. Rocky like using Oxycontin again? No, not that rocky. But rocky like giving into temptation and using sleep aides when they were not necessary. Rocky like starting to revert back to my addictive thinking and isolating patterns and rocky like when the bottom of my pink cloud dropped out and I fell on my ass…you know, the normal recovery shit that everyone goes through.
It seems like if you get away from all of the semantics of addiction recovery like whether or not you work the twelve steps, whether or not you feel that taking antidepressants or Suboxone mean you are not truly in recovery, or whether you consider yourself to be an addict or a person who is chemically challenged…our recoveries and our beginning steps on the road of our recovery are pretty similar.
People who are successful in addiction recovery are those who get the recovery basics down pat (what a weird saying…down pat). They are sharing and identifying, they are reading about recovery and are usually writing about recovery in some form or another whether it be blogging or keeping a recovery journal, they know what it is to stay in the day and they are basically trying to better themselves.
Now, when I say that you have the recovery basics down pat (again with the down pat?) do I mean that you follow these to the letter and never stray? Nope. What I mean is that you know the basic things that it takes to be successful in recovery and you try to stay on top of them. That’s all we can really do…try our best everyday.
Here is where the stumble don’t fall comes into play. I have had periods of time where I have been off my game. For one reason or another I let my recovery take the back burner to what was going on in my life. Thankfully, what I have managed to do is remain aware enough about myself to catch this happening.
I have caught myself in various stages of falling. There were times when I could feel that old “fuck it” attitude returning and decided then and there to do something about it. I have caught myself starting to let my old addictive thinking patterns creep back in and have headed that off. I have even been to the point of taking Benedryl for no other reason than to get groggy and drift into sleep without having to think about anything. Not a big deal for some, for me…huge.
If I didn’t recognize these things for what they really are…precursors to a full relapse, I wouldn’t be where I am today in terms of my recovery. So while I did stumble a few times, I have never let myself fall. I plan to keep it that way.
A Stumble Down Memory Lane – Addiction Style
Here is something that I thought would be fun to do. Since I’m not really into the whole anonymity part of addiction recovery I thought it would be appropriate to show some pictures of myself…kind of like a little then and now type of thing. Here we go.
THEN:Starting from the left above, November and December of 2006…I was not doing to well at this point but still hadn’t thrown in the towel. Finally, the last on the right is me actually in rehab. The picture is kind of little, I know, but trust me…it’s not a pretty picture anyway.
NOW: these were all taken from October of 2007 and on (did the Miss Piggy costume clue you in?). I feel 100% better about myself. I’ve put on some weight since February 2007 (working on it ok?) but even still, I feel so much better and healthier than I have in a long time. And don’t worry…I’m only drinking Red bull in the first picture on the left.
One last thing, I wanted to share with you a quote that you have probably heard before. This quote was recited to me by another patient while I was in rehab and it rang so true for me that it has stuck in my mind as one of those defining moments in my early days of recovery:
“Change is what happens when the pain of holding on becomes greater than the fear of letting go. Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around us in awareness” -James Thurber
Fear is what holds a lot of us where we are, unwilling to accept change. I could never imagine myself being grateful for pain but I am. I am grateful that the pain of my addiction ultimately became to much for me to bear and I was finally able to welcome change. And what a change it has been.