Looking Back

August 5, 2023

on recovery

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It’s hard to remember how awful my emotional state was back then. It feels like ages ago. Those years of addiction were painful. I was like an insecure boy in a man’s body.  Life didn’t fit me and each day was a struggle to overcome shame and self-loathing.  I was destroying myself in the night and then acting like everything was okay during the day. Holding it together was a precarious job.

But I changed. It took a massive effort – a life overhaul. I can’t over-state how much needed to go. The dismantling of life seemed as painful as the addiction itself but I needed a reset. Being an addict was like having arrested development and recovery required growing up again.  That’s why everyone can do it, but it’s also why the process takes a long time. 

The groups I joined brought a sense of security. Having real friends brought strength. Learning life skills developed self-control. Speaking my story aloud extinguished the toxic shame that had burned me for so long. Recovery transformed my relationship with my Self.  And just like any growth process, it was impossible to know how or how much I was changing while I was in it. Sometimes I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere at all.

I can only see the depth of the transformation when I look back. The greatest change – and the motivation for writing this post – is the most difficult to explain.  It’s how I feel inside: normal. Not impulsive nor impatient.  I am more or less in control of myself again. Life comes to me now. The days of being overwhelmed by crises are over. The fight or flight alarm turned off after ringing for 30 years.

I have this sense of okay-ness now. I am not usually worried about anything. Life is still challenging and stressful. After all I am now married with kids – but stress is not debilitating anymore. My whole body seems to have have un-tensed. I used to only feel stress, anger and fear. Now the emotional range is greater and amazingly I feel joy sometimes. This is how I am every day.

Other people can feel the new me. They respond differently now. It’s much easier to make and maintain relationships and conflicts are few. The connections I have are so much deeper than they were. The promises of recovery came true.

I am so grateful for all of this. Sometimes in awe, sometimes tears come up just behind my eyes. Did I deserve any of this? I don’t know. God is merciful. 

I pray that you all will persevere in your own paths.

Categories: Reflections