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Lessons Learned in Recovery

What have I Learned in recovery
If I only knew then what I know now. Oh how much easier it would have been…If I could go back and change how this all played out I wouldn’t. I am constantly reminded that life is a journey. There is never an endgame, we just learn lessons along the way. Recovery is no different.I get myself frustrated when I see people making the same mistakes I made. If only people would do what I say. It’s funny how much I think I know. As time passes I understand more and more that for every question answered, a million other questions arise. We are not supposed to know anything for certain.

It’s no wonder we feel so confused when first getting clean and sober. The changes are fast and overwhelming. I don’t know much, but there are some things I have learned that I would like to share with you all. Hopefully, someone can skip over the pain of learning these lessons the hard way.

What have I Learned about God??

OH NO!! The G word!!! Everyone panic!!!

I have found that God is just a word. The word itself confuses people. I myself fall into the trap of rolling my eyes when people preach at me. I feel like a hypocrite sometimes because I want people to feel comfortable in their own beliefs. If someone is religious or atheist or wicken or whatever, I hope that person has the freedom to believe whatever they want. For me… I find it best to believe what I believe and use it as a beacon of strength for myself.

I believe in energy. I don’t need to go into detail, but it seems obvious to me that everything is connected – on a level that is above my comprehension. I figure it’s easiest to belong to the Universal flow of energy that is around me, and not worry about it too much.

When I try to force things to get what I want, I am literally fighting the power of the Universe.

If you are confused about God, don’t feel like you are worse off. Everyone is confused about God. No one actually understands God. If the actual word God freaks you out, than call it something else. Belonging to a power greater than yourself is part of the human condition. Even agnostics have to understand that we all belong to something.

Just be open minded. Keep searching. The answers will come.

What Have I Learned About Faith and Fear??

Fear is like the bogey man. It’s that scary imaginary friend that lives in your closet. You can feel him looking at you when you are alone in the dark. It’s not real.

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day. This friend said that having blind faith is a waste. She was saying that having blind faith is ignorance, and you are just ignoring the realities of life. Right after that she started venting to me about all the things she was worried about in her life. I pointed out that she was having blind fear.

Things rarely happen exactly the way we predict or hope that they will. When we think about the future it is easy to assume the outcome. The only difference between faith and fear is that when you are living in faith, you are giving up control. You are just accepting that whatever is going to happen is going to happen, and that everything is going to be okay. When you are living in fear you are attempting to control the outcome, because you are convinced that things need to be a certain way.

Faith is accepting the outcomes, fear is thinking you know better.

What Have I Learned About Control??

We don’t have any. No really, none of us have any control over the world around us.

There is only one thing that anyone who has or will ever exist can control, and that is his or her own actions. That’s it. We can control what we do. We can control ourselves. Nothing more, nothing less.

I personally find this to be extremely frustrating. I see so much pain in the world, so many problems, so many people who are suffering. Why cant I fix it? Why doesn’t anyone ever listen to me?

More than anything, I get frustrated when I lose things that I hold onto so tightly. The pain of loss is the deepest cut.

There is nothing I can do about any of that. The results are not up to me. I do what I do in hopes that I will get what I want, but that’s where it stops. I can’t control anything past my actions. Either can anyone else.

What Have I Learned About Addiction??

I don’t think I will ever discover something with more power over a person than addiction. Nothing will motivate a person like obsession.

It’s so cruel because with recovery, you can never get completely comfortable. Since I’ve gotten clean I’ve watched three friends die of heroin overdoses. I’ve had family members go in and out of treatment. I had an uncle die of an Oxycontin overdose. I’ve admitted friends into psych wards. I’ve had best friends vanish, I’ve watched people come and go. It’s relentless.

All the while I see these people, and I judge them. I see them relapse and die and I look down upon them with disdain. I forget about the little voice who whispers to me quietly, and never lets me forget that he is there for me anytime. I forget that it could just as easily be me. I forget about the lies I’ve told and the money I’ve stolen to get my fix.

My biggest fear in life is that all of this will one day vanish. Everything I’ve worked so hard for and the recovery I have built and the friends I have made and grown to love, I could lose this all so easily if I get high. It only takes a split second.

I’ve learned that addiction is a battle I can’t win. I want to. I want to prove to myself and to the world that I can crack the code, and that I can enjoy the euphoria and escapism that drugs and alcohol afford me. But I cant. I know I cant. I know how I gravitate towards numbness and I’m not willing to lose all of this.

I’ve seen too many people try and fail. All of them clawing onto the dream that they can tame the beast. Over and over again, I see them fall. It’s like watching other people jump off a cliff, looking over the edge and saying “I got this.” Then jumping.

I am okay with losing the addiction battle. I can’t win. I’m not going to try.

What Have I Learned About Myself??

I’ve learned who I am.

I’ve learned that time is the most valuable resource of all, and every second lost is a second I can never get back. That sounds so stupid when you are young.

I’ve learned how to be still. I’ve learned how to be comfortable. I was never comfortable before. If I spoke I would second guess myself. If I was silent I got anxious. I’ve learned that talking to other people really isn’t that big of a deal.

I’ve learned that I can’t please everyone. I hope that most people like me, but some people just wont. Not because I am a bad person, but because people are different. I have tattoos and a pit bull, and I curse a lot. I am quiet and I don’t like having a lot of friends. Some people may consider me to be “stand off-ish.” Who cares? I’ve learned that it is not my job to make people happy. That was hard for me because before if someone didn’t like me, I thought I was doing something wrong. I thought I had to change. Just be yourself and be honest.

“Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it’ll always get you the right ones.”

– John Lennon

I’ve learned that it is okay to not be okay sometimes. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be happy every second of every day. I’ve learned that it’s not possible to be happy all the time. It’s irrational to want to feel that way. I strive for being whole. I try to work every day to fill the voids that gape inside of me.

I think that if more people spent their energy trying to be whole, and less time trying to happy, we would all live better and more fulfilling lives. Happiness is just an emotion, and emotions can feel very very real.

The most important lesson I have learned is that I can’t do this alone. After all I have gone through, I don’t know why I ever wanted to be alone so much. As much as I enjoy my solitude, to my surprise I have learned that there are lots of beautiful beautiful people in the world.

Recovery has taught me that time spent with the people I love, is the most precious gift I will ever have.

Original Article re-printed here with permission from

Red Rock Recovery Center is a Colorado state licensed substance abuse extended care treatment program designed to help you or your loved one recover from the struggles associated with alcoholism and drug addiction. Located in Denver, Colorado we offer a safe haven for those afflicted by the ravages of untreated addiction. Our program is based on a compassionate 12-step model that applies behavioral as well as life skill therapies, which will enable our clients to heal and recover.

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