3 Things I Learned In Recovery

Last week I celebrated three years free from alcohol and substances. Considering what a giant mess of a human being I was before, obviously I had to learn quite a bit to move forward. This experience basically entailed me learning how to be a grown-ass woman, something I MOST CERTAINLY was not before!

Here are the most important lessons I've learned over the last 1100 or so days:

  • Feelings are not facts!

Before I got clean I was a slave to my feelings. To me, if I had a thought based on feelings, that thought was the absolute truth. I felt anxiety? Then life was a scary place. I felt that getting schneefed to the dome (yes, I've been watching a lot of Kroll Show) would solve all my problems? Well, then I must proceed to make a party possible on a Wednesday night at all costs. You see the problem here? I had always considered myself an empathetic and sensitive person, and I thought that feelings were clues that would help me navigate life. What I learned after I got clean was that, holy shit, my feelings were super freaking selfish most of the time.

Take-away: While feelings are useful (obviously), sometimes you need to listen to logic and restraint, too.

  • Control is not the goal!
One of the main reasons I used mood- and mind-altering substances back in the day was so that I could feel a sense of control over my life. Although it ultimately led to me losing control over so much, the feeling of being able to regulate something (my mood) gave me a brief reprieve from the garbage stew that was my life at the time. Of course, the deeper into that lifestyle I got, the more "control" I lost, the more frustrated I became, and the more I would party. A pretty terrible cycle. It was only in admitting I had control over very little that my life became more manageable. What a comfort to know I didn't have to fix everything! I still see snippets of this need to grasp on tightly to aspects of my life these days, like when I eat pizza more days a week than I would care to (hey, I'm human!), but when I just let it go and stop trying to micromanage, I feel at ease.

Take-away: I'm not in control of everything, and that's a relief!

  • I'm pretty much Superwoman!
Okay, maybe I can't fly, or whatever Superwoman does (idk, I don't read comic books), but I think it's pretty bad-ass that I've gotten this far. I'm not going to lie, some days I feel like a nobody who's made no progress. But that's a pile of bull-turds! In the last three years I've managed to stay sober through new jobs, getting laid off, starting a business, my dad's heart-attack, my sister moving to England, losing friends, dealing with the death of more than a few acquaintances, fights with my partner and family . . . and I still haven't escaped to a bottle! I've also attended trauma groups and individual counselling, working my ass off to slough off the parts of me that are no longer useful or beneficial to my healing. These are amazing things!

I remember when I started this whole journey, right at the very beginning, I was so reluctant to get started because I didn't think I could be "fixed." I thought it would be too much work, and it probably wouldn't change me anyway. Well, the time passed anyway (as it does), and it DID work. I'm grateful that I took the risk.

Take-away: We have no idea what we're capable of, but it's totally worth it to give it a shot!

Maybe you're where I was back in the day, feeling like crap about where you are in life. I want you to know things can improve. It's not easy, but it's worth it, and I promise you have a reservoir of strength in you that you're not even aware of. Or on the other side of the coin, maybe you're in a state similar to my current one, and you've vanquished a lot of your old demons. In that case, I hope you take a minute to let it sink in just how much work you've done and how far you've come. Either way, reader, take a minute to dust off your cape and give yourself a pat on the back. I think you're pretty bad-ass!


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