I have been struggling lately. Actually, I have been struggling for a long time, but it is not in my nature to let the world see what's going on in my soul. Several things have happened in the last week which have made me take a long, hard look at myself and accept the one thing I have been running from; recovery.
I have been sober since 26 September 2006. But I have to say, honestly, that I'm not sure I ever entered recovery. I attended chats, I studied the disease of addiction, I wrote musings about how the statements could help us on our journey ... but I didn't apply a word of it to myself. And so, as might be expected, I drifted away from my support group, telling myself that sobriety was "enough". The things that were wrong with me were far too complex to be handled with a few lines of statements, a little journalling. I needed heavy psychotherapy at the least; if I could be helped at all. But at least I was sober, or so I told myself.
I came back recently, as the weight of living the same life without the one coping mechanism I had known finally grew too burdensome. And yet, I still couldn't breach the wall between "me" and recovery. I was miserable, and growing more miserable by the day. I had sunk so deeply into negativity and self-loathing that it was physically painful to hear about joy, enthusiasm, happiness. I began to wonder if I was was simply incapable of feeling those things, if there was something pathologically wrong with me.
Something finally broke. I'm not completely certain what it was, but I stopped running. I took, as a dear friend said in the chat that started the process, a small step. I recognized that negativity wasn't a natural state and that I could make a plan to overcome it. That's as far as I got, but the step had been taken. And then, during another informal chat, I pulled out the information I had on relapse to answer a question. It was reading this that made me realize not only that if I was reaching the point where my only choices seemed death, insanity, or drinking, but that I had never moved past the very basic stages of recovery.
And so, I am committing myself to opening to recovery, to giving up the dysfunctional, negative coping skills I have used all my life. There is a lightness in my soul that I'm not sure has ever been there. I had cried earlier this week because I could only think of one time when I had felt what I thought of as pure joy. Yesterday, I felt that joy again. The first time was at 13, when I learned that my Mother, who had recently been diagnosed with cancer, was going to recover. This time, it's because I realized that I can recover.
If you are newly sober, take this message away: Sobriety will keep you alive, but it is recovery that will allow you to live. I see that now.