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5 Things I learned about myself through Recovery

My recovery is a journey not a destination that I’m going to arrive at.

Recovery is the way I live my life today and hopefully if I am willing, will live it tomorrow. Every day I learn something about myself that is new, exciting, scary and enlightening all at the same time.

I have learned so many things about myself through Recovery that only mentioning 5 will be difficult but for brevity’s sake here are 5 of the long list of things I’ve learned about myself through recovery:

  1. I am not the labels I have given myself. For most of my life and newly in recovery I labeled myself. I would tell myself things like; I am an addict, I am bad at math, I am from the mountains, I am lazy, I am blonde, etc. What I didn’t realize I was doing was limiting myself. I am absolutely and totally capable of anything. Everything I need to succeed (at anything I want) is already inside of me. I learned that about myself through recovery. The truth is I probably would be good at math if I tried. I am smart so why wouldn’t I be? I ditched the blonde and I’m a brunette now. I’m not just an “addict” and I’m very motivated and hard-working. What I really learned about all these labels is that there is no label for spirit. I am limitless and capable; I am a spirit and not a man-made (mind-made) label of myself.
  2. I don’t have to settle. For so long I thought I had to settle for having smaller dreams because I was an addict or that I had to settle for the guy that wasn’t perfect for me. This isn’t true. Through recovery what I have learned about myself is that I am worth the best; the best of whatever it is but essentially the best life. If I have trust in a higher power I know that whatever comes my way will be beyond even what I think is the best. So I don’t have to settle today because I am afraid, which is usually why we settle.
  3. No one is perfect and that is beyond ok. For me in my addiction everything was so black and white. You were either a good person or a bad person. You either liked me or hated me. You either were totally perfect or just a total failure. What I learned about myself in recovery is that it doesn’t have to be black and white. It’s ok to strive to be better and not make it sometimes. It’s okay to be a good person who doesn’t do the right thing sometimes. Perfection is boring. Perfection makes me unable to relate to anyone else. Why would I strive to be anything more than human? Making mistakes is what it means to be human. What I learned about myself in recovery is that being imperfect is what is perfect. Being messy, flawed, imperfect is what makes me who I am, my life what it is, and is what makes me capable of connecting to you.
  4. My emotions don’t have to dictate my actions. For so long if I felt something I would act on it. For instance I would say “I don’t feel like working out.” And then I wouldn’t work out. “I don’t feel like going to school today.” Or “I feel like getting high today.” The list could go on with examples of how what I felt dictated what I did. Today what I have learned about myself through recovery is that doing the things I don’t feel like doing and resisting some of the things I really feel like I want to do is what makes me a responsible and emotionally mature adult. There are a lot of times I don’t feel like going to work but I go anyway. This is because it is the right thing to do. I take the right action despite my emotions because my emotions don’t have to dictate my life.
  5. Being sad, uncomfortable, angry, or in a depressed spot is ok. For so long I thought you were supposed to be happy. That happy was the norm. I thought if I wasn’t happy there was something essentially and inherently wrong with me and I needed to do something to cover up that sadness, anger, melancholy or emotion whatever it was. It is part of the reason I got high. I told myself that it was bad to feel sad, that sadness was a negative thing. The truth is there are no negative or positive emotions just different ones. What I learned about myself in recovery is that every emotion I experience is normal and not to be labeled as bad or good but just are. If I can do this then I don’t have to get high because I’m sad or uncomfortable. I can be mindful and realize that it is ok and let the emotion pass. I have learned that every emotion I experience is for a reason.

Everyone learns different things about themselves in recovery at different times. Some people come into recovery already with this knowledge while some of us have to learn it the hard way. For some of us it comes as a spark of intuition about life. Either way it is an amazing experience to be recovering not only from addiction and alcoholism but also the human condition. Every day I am just trying to be a little bit better than I was yesterday and through that I learn more than just those five things but also how resilient, amazing, beautiful, motivated, loved, inspired and grateful I am.

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