The first time I got sober in 2009, my concept of recovery was only pertaining to my alcoholism. I did not see any other issue to personally recover from, other than alcohol addiction.
I recovered using the 12-step program straight out of the book containing the directions in its original form. To me, that was (and still is!) the only way to get my crazy head out of the way and experience a spiritual transformation which has sobriety as a result.
However…while at the time I did not realize it, my recovery was completely black and white. If a principle or person fell in line with that book, it was ok. If recovery or ideas about recovery were NOT found in that book, I scoffed at them, or tossed them aside as a meager opinion. I rolled my eyes slightly at ideas like codependence, anxiety and depression. I thought if you recovered through a 12-step program, it would pretty much heal all other the spiritual malaises you carried inside. I was quick to judge others and was riding an ego soap-bar headed to disaster. I was so incredibly narrow in my view.
Added to this unhealthy view of recovery, I did not account for the multiple issues bubbling under my sobriety. My own codependency was escalating at a terrifying speed. My anxiety, depression, and stress were growing exponentially. My love addiction, workaholism and obsessive behaviors were ruining my life and my sense of Self. The roles of mother, wife, stepmom, daughter and employee had become places to hide, and filled me with terror. I had no idea who I was anymore, nothing made sense. After 5 years of sobriety, I drank again. The nightmare began.
For the next two years, I tried desperately to get sober again. Nothing worked. My program knowledge. The contents of the book (many pages of which I could quote by heart). The group and old ideas. It was just not enough. I could not stop drinking.
I lost my marriage, my job and my Self – and I finally came to the realization I had to do things differently if I wanted to get well. I had to un-learn everything I knew and start fresh. I had to redefine recovery, and look at it under a new light.
The process became an extremely personal one. It was long and beautiful, and I am grateful to know that it is still on-going.
When I worked on RECOVERING the parts of SELF that were lost through roles, codependence and other mental obsessions, I cracked new ground. When I explored these new paths, and added the 12 steps again, now with an added dose of self-love, humility, and shamelessness – the miracle of sobriety happened again.
I now see all the layers of myself that needed recovery, all the mental and spiritual conditions from which I needed relief. I embrace them as part of me, and I honor them with love, kindness, and self-forgiveness.
I found that what works for me is a God-given recovery based on the original 12-step program. However, unlike before, I work on all the gray areas that are full of beauty…The missing piece I have found now, is the SELF that I bring into the process. Awareness of Self is JUST as important as the program as all its other parts.
Connection to my Higher Power + Connection to Self + Service to others = Recovery.
Simple. Wholesome. Beautiful.
Today, I see recovery as a BODY/MIND/SPIRIT process, in which transformation plays as big a role as self-love and spiritual growth. Yoga, journaling, silence, meditation, connection with other women…being open, honest and LOUD about my recovery… recognizing my vulnerability, facing my fear, acknowledging my shame – and kindly setting it to the side. Constant knowledge, constant surrender. I honor all the broken parts of me as cracks – and know that the light comes in though them, indeed.
I am exploring all the gray areas, and the depth and width of my understanding of my own recovery, and that of others, is evolving and expanding daily. There is no more shaming, fearing or chastising others for their own ideas and perceptions. Every peak and every valley we experience in this ride is part of the beautiful journey.
We recover old parts of us that were lost. We discover new parts that did not exist before. Without fear, without judgement, without shame. Opening up, surrendering, and exploring the ride of this gorgeous (and sometimes difficult) journey of recovery.
We honor all the process and continue seeking spiritual connection to God, to Self, and to Others – one beautiful minute, hour and day at a time.
Pamela is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach & Educator. She has been in recovery since 2009, and is a passionate about breaking the stigma surrounding addiction. Please share this post via the channels below or anyone in your life who may benefit from a little information about drinking and recovery.