It wasn’t an easy road, and it took me some time to get to where I am now, but eventually I found a solid philosophy that stands the test of time: relentlessly pursuing reality. This reality is my life both in and out of 12 step rooms – it is my life philosophy. (Incidentally, my life does encompass recovery as well, because of the nature of my job, but here I am talking about associating with the people outside of work—people I meet in the context of my own personal recovery.)
I must honor both of those lives and integrate them in a way that makes sense and brings positivity and joy, and that enriches my life. So, despite having arrived at a solid point in my recovery where I am no longer delusional or afraid of facing obstacles that life throws my way, I am still evolving and still learning. This means that as much as recovery is part of me, I don’t want it to dominate me. I’m not eschewing it—but I would like not to be limited to only the borders of Addiction and Sobriety.
The “problem” is that most of the people I spend my time with are recovering folks—as there’s safety in spending time with those who have the same recovery goal as mine—so we talk about the things we know: how we stay sober, how to stay sober, how to help others stay sober. Yet, I often wish we could move beyond those topics. I wish we, recovering addicts, could give ourselves permission to be more than just … recovering addicts.
You see, even recovery can become addictive (as in absorbed and overwhelming) – this can be where the program is so encompassing there’s very little room for anything else. This is good in the beginning; it’s important to surround yourself with like-minded individuals who struggle with the same things. This is your support group. This is where you heal. But personally, after some years in recovery, I’d rather just talk about life in general with my recovering friends.
There is a saying that recovery is not a way of life but a way to life. So in some ways, this is like Journey vs. Destination. You can talk about your Journey, but once you arrive where you were heading (recovery) maybe it’s okay—and healthy—to talk about other things that are happening. I mean, when you take a trip anywhere, you visit that place and you don’t spend hours pondering about the service on the plane.
Let’s stay diligent and aware about our recovery, but let’s not forget that this is only the beginning. If recovery is a foundation, then it is on that foundation that we can build wonderful things—beautiful houses full of love, new careers, new pursuits, relationships. We can develop hobbies, focus on our dormant talents, explore the world in ways that were not possible when we were drinking or using. And let’s talk about those things. Perhaps next time you see a recovering friend, talk about a book (that is not about recovery!) that you’re reading or a movie you’ve seen or ask where they’re planning on to go on vacation. Perhaps ask them what’s important to them today. There really is life out there, and the 12 steps are only the first steps you take to go all the way and enjoy it all to the fullest.
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