By Haley Kennedy, Recovery Coach – 4.23.2021 —
Ever feel like life and recovery are described and lived in the form of lessons? And that most of the time these lessons have to be learned the hard way? In fact, the entire story of my recovery, so far, is a big lesson learned the hard way. Don’t ask me why because the “why” isn’t important. What is important, is that I am learning.
I learned to be careful what I pray for.
In recovery I started building a relationship with a higher power of my own understanding that, out of convenience, I choose to call “God”. And I quickly learned that my God’s got jokes. It seems like our communication is often through sarcasm and irony. Which is cool, we get each other. But the catch is I tend to hear or get things I didn’t exactly ask for. A perfect example was when I prayed for patience. Now I imagined God would just snap their fingers and grant me this wonderful gift of patience and I would intuitively know how to keep calm and let things roll off my back. Man was I wrong! Instead of just giving me patience, God gifted me with PLENTY of opportunities to practice patience. In hindsight, I am grateful for the chance to develop and strengthen this skill, but in the moment, I was probably the least patient I had ever been. And that was certainly a lesson learned the hard way. But like I always say, those difficult moments and experiences are often the times that I learn and grow the most.
I learned why they don’t suggest dating in the first year.
Oh, the lessons to be learned about relationships in recovery. The classic, almost cliché, and well, all too common cautionary advice for those of us in early recovery. Very early on, I got involved with someone who I thought was everything I wanted and needed, plus some. They were cute, had some recovery under their belt, and were charming, kind, had similar taste in music. What more could I ask for right? I was consumed with infatuation and obsessed with the feeling that someone adored me. But lucky for me, God has a way of doing things for us that we can’t do for ourselves. I didn’t know what was good for me. I hadn’t been in recovery long enough to get to know my true self, or to really know what I wanted out of a relationship. So, when this person decided to relapse and completely ghost me, I was devastated. At first, I questioned what was so wrong with me that they would totally blow me off… And then I became resentful towards them about the way things went down. But with a bit of time to myself I started to look at things differently. I learned that whatever was going on with them, had absolutely nothing to do with me. I was kind, thoughtful, beautiful, and on a path guided by my higher power. It happened. So be it. They were obviously not meant for me, nor did they deserve me. And with time I learned the difference between infatuation, lust and getting involved in ‘situation-ships’ to avoid being lonely, and healthy relationships with shared ideals, goals, perspectives and partners who can communicate effectively. I learned that I am valuable. I learned what I expect out of relationships, and what I should never settle for. And because I learned that lesson the hard way, I am in a happy healthy relationship with someone that is everything I deserve, and more.
I learned that pedestals only exist in my mind.
When we first come into recovery there is this phenomenon that occurs when we start to meet men and women who have more recovery time than us…There’s this automatic assumption that people with more time than us must be perfect and are worthy of idolization, thus we place them on a pedestal. But truth is, even in recovery, everyone is human and absolutely no one is perfect. Everyone has their vice, their unhealthy habits/behaviors, negative thoughts, and selfish sides of themselves that come out sometimes. And I learned, personally, that when I stopped using substances, my other self-destructive behaviors became more frequent and more noticeable. Working through this and becoming more
compassionate and understanding towards myself, helped me to accept others as they are, rather than putting them on a pedestal. I learned the hard way that watching someone fall from the ideal that I held them at, was not their fault, but my own. Everyone has struggles and everyone make mistakes. That’s it. End of story. We’re all human. No one is better or less than. We are just always giving each other different perspectives and experiences on this recovery journey. “People are going to either show you what to do in recovery or what not to do in recovery.”
I learned that recovery means a lifetime of learning.
The hard lessons I continue to learn are tremendous, life changing, and the value cannot be described in words. Everything happens for a reason, it’s either a blessing or a lesson. Even if I can’t see it right away, I always find out soon enough when I give it time. Some of these lessons are undeniably hard, and they still happen every day, but there are also lessons to be learned in all the beautiful experiences. I’ve gained an unshakeable and tangible faith, that allows me to roll with the punches and learn from each hit I take.
“Never stop learning; for when we stop learning, we stop growing.” – Loyal ‘Jack’ Lewman