Perhaps Webster said it best. Re`cov´er`y. “A regaining of something lost.”
Something lost. Like health, self esteem, power, choices. Indeed self.
I am grateful to have spent more than half of my life in recovery. I am 66 years old.
(You can do the math.) At my age, it’s hard to remember the using years. I know they are there. I know the indelible marks they have left on my life. But, I can no longer feel all the shame and pain. For that I am extremely grateful. For a long, long time, I thought that would never go away. I thought I would be saddled with remorse and guilt forever.
Like so many, I grew up in a household with alcoholism. Both parents. Funny how it skips around. They had three kids. Two of us got it, one didn’t. (Again, a classic story, my brother who was unaffected married into it.)
I never drank “normally.” From teenage years on, it was always over the top. My college transcript reads like a rollercoaster. On probation, off probation. My ensuing marriage was more of the same. Up and down. Tragedy caused me to stop the merry-go-round. My brother’s drinking had gotten worse after his wife’s suicide. His son came to live with me. 15 years old, so much promise. To make a very long story short, he died. The hospital said it was “drug related.” Whoa….
I’d heard of AA. Had an aunt and uncle who went to “those” meetings. Went to my first meeting November, 1975. Sat there amazed as I heard my life story. “Got it” right then and thought this is easy—I just quit drinking.
Well, I did. That was it for me. However, life then started to really fall apart. My house of cards tumbled to the ground as I started my journey of recovery. The first five years of sobriety were so tough. Found out I didn’t know how to live. Had missed so many life lessons along the way. Thank God for AA sponsors and friends. Found the life lessons in the 12 Steps. Plunged into learning everything I could about this disease.
Found a purpose. Thought about working in the field. Went back to school. Found a passion. Got a job working as an AODA prevention specialist working with schools. Loved it. Started working with Student and Employee Assistance Programs. Loved it. Spent years working as an AODA counselor. Loved it. Went on the road training on AODA and elderly issues. Loved it.
It never gets old. The people, the stories, the amazing recoveries! The young people starting recovery with energy and enthusiasm. I look at them and marvel at their maturity. The mid-lifers, so many struggling with addiction and mental illness. Taking control of their lives and identifying what recovery means for them. And of course the seniors. So many can point to a life changing event when their drinking changed. The loss of a spouse, or perhaps a child. Social drinkers for a lifetime until a trauma caused the drinking or pill use to spiral out of control.
I have been privileged to meet so many and travel together down the road of recovery. Not in giant steps. Or in leaps and bounds. But slowly, surely, one day at a time.