By Haley Kennedy, Recovery Coach – 12.18.2020 —
If I made a list of things that I wanted when I went to treatment it would have looked a little bit like this:
· I wanted to control my use to avoid consequences.
· I needed my mother to get off my case.
· I would have liked a registered and insured vehicle with gas in the tank.
· I would have accepted a few packs of NewPorts.
· I needed a job to buy myself new stuff, like clothes and shoes.
Now, recovery did eventually give me all those things. But, thankfully, it gifted me so much more. I would have seriously robbed myself with the list of things I thought I wanted. There are a few things I received as a result of my recovery that were unexpected and much more profound.
I found the confidence to be ME.
It wasn’t until I found recovery, that I became aware that my self-worth and self-esteem were non-existent. In my recovery process, I have done an immense amount of work to learn who I am and why I do the things I do. I’ve been able to foster compassion, patience and radical self-acceptance including all the good, the bad and the ugly. Now I don’t obsess over regrets and all the things I wish I could change or feel envious of other people’s lives. I have confidence in who I am and faith that I am exactly where I am meant to be.
I am honest.
The art of deceit and manipulation often allows a lot of us to sink deep into substance use without being caught. I was gifted a conscience when I found recovery which taught me the importance of honesty. And not only did I learn how to be honest with my family and friends, but I learned how to be truly honest with myself. This skill has helped me grow immensely because I can admit when I am not okay and ask for help when I need it.
I am grateful for the “little things”.
Life is full of “big things”: coming into recovery, landing a job, buying a car, moving into your own place, etc. And it’s easy to celebrate those. But, what about the “little things” that often get overlooked. For example, someone pointed out to me how big of a deal it was that I voted this year. And when I really thought about it, it seems like something small that everyone does, but I certainly was not voting when I was in active addiction. But this year I did, because recovery has taught me to fully participate in my life and to be honest, it feels great!
I am a healthy participant in my relationships.
The majority of my relationships in active addiction can be described as “situation-ships” or “sinking ships”. The way I operated in relationships was toxic, abusive, one-sided, self-serving, and I tended to strategically manipulate. It was impossible to connect with another human when all my focus was centered around my next fix and I had zero connection with Haley herself. Today I have healthy relationships where I genuinely care about others and I am capable of helping them without an ulterior motive.
I am free.
I often describe active addiction as an imprisonment in living hell that I would not wish upon my worst enemy. I am so thankful that recovery handed me the key to release myself. And I find it absolutely beautiful that my freedom has awarded me the opportunity to help other people who are still struggling, find their key and release themselves every single day.
I am a productive member of society.
I was young when my substance use started, so I never practiced a lot of “normal” adult things… Like paying bills or paying for anything for that matter. I had a bad habit of shoplifting so I could save my cash for drugs. And I never had a debit card because I could not hold onto money long enough for it to make it into the bank account. I will never forget the moment I was able to see all my progress and learn what it meant to be a productive member of society. See, my son had been begging for a tablet for Christmas that year. So, I took the time to research, found a child friendly device and as I was standing in line at Walmart waiting to make that purchase with a debit card, in my name, and my hard-earned money, I was brought to tears with overwhelming contentment and happiness to be “a normal person”. I watched his smiling face on Christmas morning and felt so darn proud of myself as I told myself “I did that!”
These may be simple things that many people take for granted. But coming from the chaos of active addiction, I’ve learned to be thankful for any small gift of normal monotonous life that I receive. Every day I notice unexpected gifts of recovery. So, as I continue to transform into the happy, healthy, well-rounded person I was always meant to be, and as I see that list grow, I am reminded that I almost robbed myself of countless gifts that bring meaning to my life.