We often hear about “being in recovery,” but what does that really mean? The answer, I’ve learned, is that it can mean a variety of things – the greatest part being that it’s entirely up to you.
Every Journey Starts with One Step
My recovery path started when I went to prison. Being behind bars impacted my way of thinking, and I spent a lot of days analyzing my past decisions and reliving the good (and bad) memories. Most of them involved alcohol, which convinced me to change my life.
Believe it or not, there are many opportunities to drink in prison, but I had little desire to. I kept this stance even after my release, for various reasons. A major condition of my probation was that I was forbidden to drink, and even though the likelihood that I’d get caught drinking by my probation officer was pretty slim, it wasn’t worth it. After all, nothing was worth a violation that would land me back in prison.
But a big part of why I decided to maintain my sobriety was my mental state and my outlook on life. For the first time in years, I was happy and felt optimistic about the future. I felt better about myself…and it showed.
Being a Better Me
Being in recovery is more than just abstaining from alcohol. To me, it’s about personal growth and being a better person. Since becoming sober, I’ve learned so many new things: I’ve taken up tennis, started practicing yoga and taught myself Spanish, to name a few. And I have so many new hobbies – things that test my strength and force me to grow. Before my car accident, all I remember doing was either going to the gym or hanging out at bars after work. Not a lot of real personal growth there.
Finally, I believe being in recovery is about practicing gratitude. Before I went to prison, I’d always taken my life for granted. I regularly nursed the “poor me” attitude and focused on what everyone else had that I didn’t. But after a near-fatal car accident, my perspective changed. It wasn’t about what I lacked, but about everything that I did have.
I regularly remind myself how lucky I am to be alive. After all, God gave me a second chance; I’m not going to squander it by returning to a drug that brought me misery and distress.
Additional Reading: Jumping Recovery’s Hurdles of Change – Without Stumbling
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