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[ Opinion ] [ Personal Narratives ]

The Ebbs and Flows of Recovery

Prior to my sobering up my life was in a constant state of chaos. In fact, I would say that I was addicted to chaos. My highs were really high and my lows were really low. If I was ever in a period of calm it didn’t last very long. Once I sobered up and began to make changes within (that effected changes without) my life began to steady out. In recovery I learned that my addiction to chaos included some need to be ever excited. I went to all lengths to increase my excitement causing me to act out in outlandish ways. I once allowed my buddies to dangle me over a 24 storey balcony. I used to, purposely, set myself on fire thinking it was funny. I would find myself in places and surrounded by people that I couldn’t imagine being in or around today. The unacceptable became acceptable and what I once thought was unlivable became livable.

All that changed once I recovered from my disease of addiction. I still have ups and downs but they are not really high or really low. Just because I’m in recovery doesn’t mean that I don’t face life challenges as the ‘Earth people’ do. My recovered life is one of ebbs and flows. During my first year of sobriety everything was going smooth. I was indeed happy, joyous and free. It was upon entering my second year that things began to become a bit hectic. As I got back into life I began to experience every day challenges. The difference this time was I faced them head-on and didn’t try to escape through self-medicating. One of the biggest stresses I placed myself in was entering into a new relationship. I had started drinking on a regular basis at the age of 16. Although I was 35-years-old when I entered into recovery I still had the maturity level of that 16-year-old. I dealt with my relationship as a 16-year-old would. This caused me untold problems and my partner as well. She couldn’t understand the reason I acted the way I did and I couldn’t understand her reactions to me. This is confusing enough when you’re both at the same maturity level but my acting as a teenager made it even more confusing. It took a lot of arguing and banging our heads against the wall before me and my partner realized that we both had to change to make our relationship work. We will be going on 10 years in a few months.

Once in recovery I went back to school and entered into a new career path. Each job I took had challenges and rewards of its own. My career too had its ebbs and flows. My first job was within an organization I loved as it had helped me in my own recovery. However due to the financial meltdown of 2008 my contract was not renewed. I was not happy about this but taking Step Three into account (my HP’s will not mine) I kept going. I managed to get a job in which the start date coincided with my last day of work. Coincidence – I think not. My new job was a casual position but with the promise of lots of hours. However it too was affected by the economy and my hours just weren’t there. This turned out to be a good thing as my Father became very ill during this time and as a result of my not having any hours I was able to spend just about every day with him until his death. Shortly after that I received a full-time position at the place I was working casual for. I spent a great five years at this place making some good friends and enjoying my work when a new career opportunity came my way.

I began work at an upstart treatment centre where I would meet some more really great people who helped learn a lot about addictions counselling (my chosen field) but also helped me grow even more in this journey of recovery. Surprising to me was that some of the people weren’t involved in 12 Step Recovery at all and introduced me to a whole new outlook when it came to sobriety and spirituality. Although most of the people I worked with were great I soon found that I was working for the most unscrupulous group of people I have ever had the displeasure of knowing. Despite this I trudged on and accepted my part. My part being that I had left a job I liked for this new one despite not knowing all the facts. The job gave me many rewards but alas the unscrupulousness of the aforementioned people began to weigh heavily. It peaked when a work friend ended up committing suicide and the higher ups at this place didn’t seem to care prior to his death (when he reached out for help) and after his death. I began to drive to work with a sick feeling in my stomach – which is never good. I hadn’t had that feeling in all the time I was sober. Eventually after a series of events, including the lying and betrayal of someone I trusted, I was terminated from my position. At first I was upset but am now accepting this as part of my Higher Power’s plan. I am still out of work but am confident that things are happening as they are supposed to. I am grateful for my recovery and grateful to be trudging, not gliding, the Happy Road of Destiny.