September is National Recovery Month. Created by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration this month is devoted to celebrating and publicizing the fact that people can and do recover from substance abuse and lead successful lives.
While Recovery Month is sponsored by an organization whose policies I don’t always agree with, the premise is a good one. Recovery is a beautiful thing. It isn’t about lack, limitation or denying oneself things one wants. It’s about opening up into a new way of living that is vastly more rewarding than anything you could imagine.
I’ve been in recovery for 31 years. I’ve seen a lot, done a lot, studied and researched a lot, and witnessed a lot. Life happens in 31 years. Through it all I’ve learned a few things.
My area of expertise lies in the 12 steps, taken from a New Thought perspective. I’ve written a short little book about it, called A New Thought Journey through the 12 Steps. You can purchase it here. A workbook is in progress.
I’ve been blessed in my journey in recovery because people took the time to teach me simple things every step of the way. I went to a treatment center and came out with two takeaways, in addition to being clean for the first time in 20 years. The first takeaway was that alcoholism is an allergy. I will always be allergic to alcohol and any other substance that alters my mind. This removed the shame that is typically associated with addiction. Because I was not ashamed of my disease, I didn’t hide it. We are only as sick as our secrets and that was a secret that was well and thoroughly outed, brought into the light to heal. My other takeaway was that living life without alcohol was not only possible but desirable, and that to do so, I needed to incorporate the 12 steps into my life. Once I began attending meetings and talking with folks to learn about those steps, powerful wisdom was shared with me every step of the way. It was pointed out to me that if I did not think I was powerless over alcohol, I was free to allow it back into my life. With the same results. It was pointed out to me that if I did not think my life was unmanageable, to just do a quick little review of recent events. It was pointed out to me that it did not matter that I could not agree with the way those first three steps were worded. Agreement was not necessary to recovery. Work was. I was to work those steps, and incorporate them into my life. Comprehension could come later. I did and it did. This was how I got through those first three steps. ...continue reading