I know we often hear people say hindsight is 20/20 – and let me tell you this has never been more relevant than it is now. If I could go back and change how everything played out, honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing. I am constantly reminded that everything is exactly as it should be. Life is an ever-evolving journey of hard lessons and incomprehensible blessings. Recovery is no different.
Sponsoring women, I find myself getting frustrated when I see them making the same mistakes I made. If only these women would take my suggestions and learn from my experiences. It’s baffling how much I think I know, and the truth is I don’t know much of anything. Through tons of emotional pain and grueling failures, I have learned a lot of things, but I continue to learn something new every single day.
I am no expert on recovery and I certainly never claim to be. However, I have learned some valuable life lessons in recovery and any chance I get I would like to share them with anyone getting sober or walking in recovery. If my pain and failures can help one person skip over the same mistakes I made and breathe a little easier – it was all completely worth it.
I may have been victimized, but I am not a victim.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in recovery is that I am 100% responsible for the way my life looks today. Have I endured unwelcomed trauma? Yes. Was I victimized when I was a child and had to walk through the traumatic memories of my past? Absolutely. I came into recovery prefacing my addiction with horror stories concerning my victim-ridden identity.
My ego loved the idea of convincing all of you that if you had experienced the things I had, then you would’ve drank/used drugs also. The more I immersed myself into the Fellowship and surrounded myself with people who were just like me, I realized that I was certainly no victim. In fact, I was doing myself a disservice by continuing to relish in this mentality.
I was convinced that everyone was out to get me. I was missing the point. It was never about what happened to me but rather how I responded to what happened to me that determined my success. I am powerless over other people, places, and things. I am, however, 100% responsible for myself and the way I perceive and respond to everyone and everything around me. Accepting that I was not a victim was the most empowering shift in consciousness.
Fear is an illusion.
Fear is that looming bogey man hiding under your bed. It is the terrifying imaginary friend that is hiding out in your closet. You swear you feel him staring at you from afar – but it’s not real. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of love, fear of not being loved – I am fearful of almost everything. Fear is just an emotion and not reality. As my sponsor says, “feelings aren’t facts”.
Before getting sober, I spent my entire life shackled to the confines of my imaginary, yet paralyzing fear. I’ve wasted opportunities, ruined relationships, and spent many years self-medicating rather than walking through the things I was fearful of. Things rarely happen the way we believe they should. I am the queen of projecting assumable fears into circumstances and remaining stagnant. Complacency is a killer for a girl like me. I will do anything to stay comfortable and 99.9% of the time it’s to my own demise. Choosing fear means you are letting go of control. You are accepting that whatever is going to happen, will happen and you will be okay. Faith is accepting the outcome while fear is living in the delusion that you know better.
Comparison is the thief of joy – choose gratitude.
I heard the quote “comparison is the thief of joy” about a year ago and it stuck with me ever since. For as long as I can remember, I positioned myself to be better than or less than in some facet or another. This cultivated utter misery and further propelled me down the road to total destruction. My thinking was distorted and full of daily complaints about why my life was the worst. I was constantly comparing my hair, car, home, parenting, adequacies, skills, and life to everyone else. The truth is, I had no real sense of who I was and I was ungrateful.
Every single day, I take the time to write out a gratitude list. I remember how hoaky I thought the idea of writing out a gratitude list was when my sponsor first asked me to participate. I was so naive. Acknowledging my gratitude for the things I do have, completely demolishes my selfishness and voids my complaints. This simple list has dismantled my victim mentality and given me the opportunity to be grateful and continue walking through the grace laid at my feet each and every day.
It’s okay to not be okay, stop judging yourself.
To say I am a perfectionist is a complete understatement. My innate need to control things and to always strive to be the best is a fatal flaw of mine. Many times, I have convinced myself that I must be perfect and ultimately, I didn’t complete the task set in front of me or I completely failed due to my own insecurities. Most of us tend to criticize ourselves long before anyone else has the chance to. I always believed that emotions and vulnerabilities equate to weakness. Oh, how misled I was.
Even walking through my third year of sobriety, I have found myself constantly judging myself for where I “should be” or what I “shouldn’t be” doing. You see, I always wind up less than – always. I assumed that 3 years of sobriety meant that I walked, talked, and breathed much like my sponsor who has 35 years sober. This idea is utter insanity. I have never felt more peace than when I began to allow myself to be exactly where I am. I have become welcoming to the days when I’m feeling a little anxious. I like the idea of inviting my anxiety in and inviting the feelings to come and go. The more I accept and love myself exactly where I am, the less I find myself stumbling over imaginary shortcomings and the more beautiful the view is.
Where you invest your love, you invest your life.
The word success varies by definition depending on who you talk to. Success may equate to money for some and meaningful relationships with others. No matter what your idea of success is if you look around at the successful people around you each of them invest their passion into the areas they are succeeding.
Upon getting sober, I had no idea of who I was or what I wanted out of my life. My routine centered around my obsession to get my next fix. Early on in my sobriety, I learned that I only had to change one thing to stay sober – everything. Life began to take on an entirely different meaning. I began to see the true value of investing myself, my time, and my passion for the things I love the most. My life has become one giant redemption story, sprinkled with grace and service of others. The rest of what happens in my day to day routine is irrelevant. If you want to do something meaningful with your life, stay focused and immerse yourself in the things that truly matter.