There are 5 things I've learned the most from my journey of recovery from alcohol
First, I learned that my addiction to alcohol was merely a symptom of a much greater problem. A void I had been trying to fill for over a decade. This void swallowed anything good that entered into my life and it spat back out a black ooze that gave way to rot. Wherever I went and no matter how far away I ran that black ooze followed me; seeping out of every pore in my body and rotting good people and good things. Now filling that void was no easy task and for anyone who knows about the 12-step program, a higher power is a very large part of filling that void.
However, it doesn’t stop there because you have the physical void left behind by your addiction. Free time that had to be filled otherwise boredom would lead right back to using or drinking again. So, what did I do? I filled it with space for healing, writing, and making connections with those around me. Where I once spread poison, I now tried to spread love and hope. I began walking in nature again, witnessing the beauty that was in the world still. My diseased mind only wanted to see the darkness, but when the light was overwhelming you couldn’t help but notice it.
There's a void inside all of us that we are all trying to fill and Love can fill every little gap
Second, I learned I wasn’t just addicted to alcohol, but the feelings that drove me to drink in the first place. Bitterness, resentments, hatred, anger, envy, and apathy. I became addicted to being my own victim, and fed on pity. I would tell my poor story to anyone who would hear me out and pity me. Sure, my story is one of abuse, suicide and great pain, but it's also one of great mercy, grace and love. After all, I'm still alive and blessed to be writing my own story. A blessing not every addict gets in their lifetime.
During my time in recovery, I have to had to lay down the hammer, lay down the grudges I held. I didn’t want to at first but my higher power had other plans for me. One by one I went through my amends process, and I forgave. I didn’t plan on being forgiven but found an overwhelming amount of it from people who I had wronged. I was open and honest with them and with myself throughout the process. I didn’t want to be trapped in my cycle of pain, shame and guilt any longer so I took the required steps to heal. Every day I blog about my journey and new things I learn. All I can do is learn, and stay sober, moving with my best foot forward.
Anything that keeps us from becoming better versions of ourselves can be an addiction.
Third, I learned I wasn’t alone in any of it. The way I felt, the things I did and the stories I found were all the same. We were all hurting from something, we all drank to fill that void, and fit in somewhere. Truth was we didn’t feel we belonged anywhere, and drinking masked our loneliness. It only served to fuel our addictions further. Being able to relate and empathize is our greatest tool of humanity I believe. To reach out to another person in their struggle and say you aren't alone, and I'll be here to guide you if you need me. We know what it was like to be chained by our addictions and we freely give back.
The more I tell my story, the more I can relate to just about anyone who has ever experienced these hardships. I wanted to be different and be special, but the truth was I wasn’t. My story is unique yes, but the addiction destroys people all the same. It doesn’t see race, religion, or anything, all it sees is the darkness inside you and capitalizes on it. None of us are alone in our struggles and there is love and compassion to be found. There is healing in sharing your story, and listening to others.
Addiction doesn’t discriminate, it will beat down and destroy anyone and anything it can, we aren't alone in that.
Fourth, I found meaning in my life again and power in my story. I didn’t know how to tell, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to. As time passed, the way forward became clear and my higher power showed me the words and how to tell my story. I chose to focus on the lessons and the healing while acknowledging the painful memories. Did these memories beat me down and break me? Yes, many times over and over because I let them. I gave them the power, and handed them the keys to my life. I became trapped in a room with these memories refusing to leave, and unable to. I didn’t find comfort there and despair tortured me every single day. I didn’t know any better and I didn’t know where to start. I started by acknowledging that I had a problem, and it was out of my control. Then I gave myself up to my higher power and began to find the roots of my addiction. I had to return to those painful childhood memories and work my way up. Establishing patterns, I had learned, developed and repeated throughout my life. I was dismayed at the things I was doing in my life that kept me looping in that cycle. One by one I've begun to unravel those long-seated patterns that are part of my story. I changed my perspective on them, and gained new perspectives in other areas of my life,
I saw how the cycle repeated itself and stood my ground in order to break that cycle.
Last, but not least. I learned how to find joy, gratitude and fulfillment in my life. Gratitude that I was alive, that I had survived and I could help others along the way. I found a purpose that had been missing from my life for some time. I stopped letting my circumstances define me by taking things moment by moment, and day by day. To stop and ask myself when upset and question why I felt that way. Was I really going to let a small incident upset my peace and joy? No, I didn’t have to and I choose to not let them define me. I found fulfillment in my writing and purpose in my stories. Writing gave me the liberation I never thought I could have. Being sober gave me the freedom I needed to liberate myself. I was so disconnected from myself I could no longer write. It only brought me pain that the words I wanted to write never came. In recovery I found myself again. I began connecting the pieces of my life and found myself journaling then writing. Like a dam wall breaking, the words came pouring out as I've been telling my story. A piece of me lives in every story I write and I try to portray the human condition the best I know how, as a man who struggled in his addiction and struggled in his past.
Writing gave me the freedom I never knew I needed, and it set me forward in my recovery in ways I didn’t know were possible.
I hope everyone finds the words to tell their stories, and find healing in their writing.