As my 9-month clean date on August 8th approaches, I have found myself reflecting on the amazing life that I have started to build, thanks to my recovery. It hasn’t always been easy but looking back at my journey so far, it has all been worth it.
When I was first released from jail and began my drug court program, I felt completely overwhelmed. I had a busy schedule. Before this, I wasn’t used to even having a schedule. I was ordered to attend group meetings, sometimes more than once a day, and therapy sessions. I also felt intimidated by those who had more time in recovery than I did. I looked at these people who had jobs, cars, their own place, etc. Basically, they had it all, and here I was with next to nothing to my name. I believed I would never the point where they were in life.
Then I sat back and realized something.
Life is not an instant gratification. I know now that recovery isn’t either. That was my problem, well one of them, for so long. I wanted it all and I wanted it when I wanted it: Right now. I didn’t have an understanding of life on life’s terms. So, when I looked to the outside world, I looked at it with the view that I had to get everything at once.
Then I began working a program.
I was nervous about going to meetings but I went. I even went to meetings where I didn’t know a single soul. My social anxiety SCREAMED at me in my head, demanding to know what I was thinking. I ignored that voice and soldiered on. Not only did I ignore the voice, but I began speaking to other people in the rooms and sharing about how I was doing at every moment. By attending meetings, I began building a network and seeing how to actually live clean and I was BLOWN AWAY. Here were people just like me, learning how to navigate life. I eventually came to realize and understand that I was not alone.
So I started keeping phone lists. This is still something I do whenever I branch out to new meetings or I go to a regular meeting and see new people. From there I started becoming more active and even attended a camp-out full of only NA members. Without a doubt I can say this was the turning point in my recovery. Not only was I surrounded by a couple hundred other recovering addicts for an entire weekend spent outdoors, (which by the way, prior to this I was a self-proclaimed NON-CAMPER), but I had an absolute blast! I took the time to get to know people. I ate A LOT of food (NA has some amazing cooks, for the record). I took pictures, a lot of pictures, with amazing new people.
I also listened.
Listening is an issue I have had my entire life. I have always wanted to be the one who talks, but I would never take the time to hear anyone else. During Flight to Freedom, (which the name of this event), I took the time to listen to what people has to say. There were ‘war’ stories and there were real life moments shared. I walked away from that event with a new tribe of people who I absolutely adore. When I got home, I began working full-time. This was something that I hadn’t yet accomplished since 2013, while I was still in active addiction. I have found that I love my job and I love the people I work with. Not only that, but they know my history and don’t care. The crazy thing is they support and encourage me, which is simply amazing to me.
In addition to all of this, a couple of weeks ago, my Mom purchased a new vehicle and gave me her old one. This is a HUGE step for me because for so many years my family has not been able to trust me. Not only did she give me the car but she gave it to me with Nana’s blessing. I will be honest – I was in tears. On top of all of the accomplishments I have made these past 9-months, I have discovered a lot of things about myself.
Most importantly that I am a strong woman.
At one point in my life, well, actually for most of my life, I always doubted myself. I was never sure of my place in this world and I let people use that to their advantage. I would rarely stand up for myself and I would do things to please other people. I would also ‘mother’ EVERYONE, worrying more about their needs than my own. Throughout this process, not only have I learned to use my voice, but I have learned how important self-care is. If I am not okay then there is no way that I will be able to work my program or take care of anyone else.
Another discovery for me is that I am a good Mom.
For so long I doubted my own ability being a Mom because I could never stand on my own two feet. I always had a crutch or an excuse and felt like I was always letting my boys down. Now I make sure I spend time with them and I make sure their needs are met. I even purchased their school supplies myself, thanks to the paychecks I am earning.
Something else I never realized is that other women are NOT the enemy.
In my ‘previous life,’ I couldn’t stand other females. I just got along better with guys. Now, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Yes, I still have some amazing male friends, but my female friends are just as kick-ass. I have gained a network of amazing women who build each other up and encourage each other. We all check on each other, not because we want something, but because we genuinely care how one another is doing.
Finally, I have learned how to live life on life’s terms.
I have learned that if you want something, you have to work to get it. Not only that, but you have to go after what you want. CLOSED MOUTHS DON’T GET FED. We only have one life. For too many years, I fought against the grain and I was miserable. I took life for granted and always felt like I was owed something. Now, I take time to enjoy the little moments. I look at the sky at sunset and sunrise. I can sit back and watch my boys play. I go out to eat with my friends after meetings. I just genuinely enjoy the company of other people.
I take the time to enjoy life.
Who’s to say what tomorrow will bring but I know that JUST FOR TODAY, I don’t have to pick up and use in order to live. JUST FOR TODAY, I can sit back and look at this beautiful life I am now building. JUST FOR TODAY, I can be just me, clean and free.