A Personal Story:
The best way to look at how recovery can change you is by looking back at your old life and seeing how different things are now.
Some changes are subtle, and some are glaringly obvious: you’re no longer drinking, not knowing how you wound up somewhere, and not remembering things that happened, only to be told by someone else. These are pretty stand-out differences in a life of recovery.
Being present in life, recognizing that each day is a gift, actually hearing someone in a simple conversation–these are more subtle changes but incredibly meaningful. After my day-to-day abuse of alcohol and drugs passed, these more subtle changes took place over time.
I have followed a 12-step program for almost three years now.
The changes began for me when I could clearly see how I had put alcohol and drugs at the center of my life. The result was a life full of sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness. Simply owning that fact gave me an incredible sense of freedom; I no longer had to be in bondage.That realization also brought about a lot of guilt and shame for the things I had done as a result of my addiction. That was a very healthy realization for me. When I owned my actions, they no longer owned me. I was able to differentiate myself from my actions. My actions were the result of deep-seated patterns of not coping with life.
As I continued in the recovery, I was able to admit fully that my actions of the past were the result of not relying upon and trusting in God. I always had a deep faith. I was a true believer. The difference now is that I seek His will and not my own.
With this realization came a great sense of relief and comfort. I no longer have to try to do things on my own. I have a power greater than myself that I can rely on. When I have a difficult decision to make, when the normal pains of life occur, when I see someone else in need, I now ask for guidance about knowing the right thing to do. I no longer have to react to life with no regard to consequence. This is the greatest sense of freedom I have experienced in recovery. It is hard to say when these changes in recovery happened.
These are more subtle changes but the ones that have the biggest impact.
There is a sense of calm and peace even when “things” look their worst. I remember early on in recovery saying to my sponsor, “So when did that happen?” when I naturally began just to live and react to life differently. There is something amazing about seeing life as an active participant. It is like building a house, brick-by-brick, until you have an entire home.