NOTE FROM LOU: Here is another drafting of part of the magazine article I wrote for this month’s issue of Journey magazine that didn’t make it to print. I understand completely that magazines only have so much space for content, and they do have to be conscious of their advertisers. Thankfully, I’m able to share the rest of the article right here!
On a personal level, the long road to recovery was neither easy nor painless. The most prominent catalyst for my sobriety this last time was actually my family, without a doubt. To be quite honest, my family was actually always there for me, but it took a few days of detoxing and meetings before I finally realized that they’d essentially never, ever left my side. It was at about that time, too, when I grasped the fact that they never would. My cousin, also in recovery, took me under her wing, and she was the sole reason that I made it to some of greater Portland’s best AA meetings on time and caffeinated. I’ll never forget that. I have mentioned Alcoholics Anonymous several times; I know it does not work for everybody. I’ve talked to some people over the years who clearly made an honest effort to attend meetings, find a sponsor, and eventually work the steps, and they still did not feel fulfilled. In my opinion, that’s okay, as we all have the same goal in mind. Personally, when I first attended AA and discovered the Big Book (AA’s handbook, written by the founders), I just fell in love with it.
Fast-forward five years to today. I’m still sober, and I’ve totally embraced a life of recovery. Nevertheless, it has not always been super easy, either. However, my main coping tools lie in the Big Book, believe it or not. I allude to its passages all the time, whether I’m working on myself and my own recovery, or in my peer role at work. For example, Bill Wilson, an AA co-founder, explains why sobriety typically takes a few attempts before resonating when he states that “[we] missed the reality and the beauty of the forest because we were diverted by the ugliness of some of its trees” (p. 50). To me this meant that, while the road to sobriety is not always simple nor attractive, it is a path that we must stay on as the gift of recovery is far better than anything we’ve experienced before. In fact, my addiction to drugs always felt like a curse until I read that “adversity truly introduces us to ourselves” (p. 530). Even though the Big Book was first published over eight decades ago, and the language is a bit archaic, it has proven itself to be an endearing, reliable source of warmth and wisdom when it comes to many of life’s challenges. Additionally, these challenges have extended beyond my desperate hope to find peace in long-term sobriety.
After five years, I regularly deal with the guilt from hurting my loved ones, which usually turns into dark bouts of depression. Sometimes, I even experience cravings, unfortunately. Thankfully, they’ve gotten much easier to deal with, and these days they usually manifest as fleeting thoughts as opposed to unyielding fixations. Nevertheless, I know how easy it is for those thoughts to become fixations, though, which is why I choose to keep very busy, attempting to maintain the ever-elusive balance between productivity and amusement. Aside from my work, which I do love, my days are usually spent writing, updating my recovery blog, painting, playing music, watching true crime shows and old sitcoms, and kicking back with close family and friends.