When I was early in recovery, I was asked what recovery means to me. At the time it meant for me to be free of drugs and alcohol but later, it started to mean reaching a level of confidence that I’d previously had in life. That’s when I realized that I was turning into someone I had never been before, and that recovery was becoming much more than getting back what I had lost. Sometimes I think recovery is more easily defined by outlining the effect it has on my life.
While I was still caught up in the throes of my disease, my life was chaotic and unmanageable. The basic pillars of my life were unstable. I never knew how long I would be able to hold a job or have a place to stay. Worse than that, I could not believe anything I heard from my would-be friends. The amount of stress and worry that comes from that is indescribable. None of those problems are present in my life now. I am a better employee then I ever was before. With a stable income, I can support a home for me and my son. Today the people in my life are trustworthy – and so am I. I have real friends who contribute to my life and provide real support. So the first thing recovery has given me was a little bit of peace.
The next gift that recovery gave me was a sense of self. For so many years, I focused on a lifestyle that was surrounded by drugs and alcohol. I used that as a social lubricant, as a source of income, and – in some twisted way – it helped to validate me as a person. Over the years, this became my identity and I was dependent on the lifestyle as a foundation of who I was. When all that was ripped away from me, I was left with no identity. In early recovery, I meandered around trying to find my place with no real sense of direction. As I began to heal, my personality started to resurface. I could recognize little ways in how I carried myself that I hadn’t seen in years. As time has gone on, I have gained a better understanding and a tremendous amount of value for who I am.
The thing that I am most grateful for in recovery is the sense of purpose that I have found. Part of this new identity that I was given was a call to service and a need to be helpful to the people around me. My past makes me uniquely suited to help alcoholics and addicts – but my course is not limited to that task. I believe that God has saved me from the pit of despair and that He has done so because there is work for me to do. This calling has given my life a sense of importance that was never there before. When I embrace my assigned post, everything in my life becomes more meaningful. As I reflect on my life before recovery, I realize that I was always looking for the reason I was here. I have found that reason in recovery and I am extremely grateful for the direction it has given me.