Wednesday, June 20, 2012
In The End, HOPE Made All The Difference...
It isn't unusual to be asked by a person new to recovery or just someone who is curious about it what the main difference is between myself today and back in the old days...not including the fact that today I obviously don't drink or use drugs. It is an easy question to answer though it's not always easy to get people to see it or believe it. What is the main difference then? Simple....It's HOPE
That sounds way too basic, much too obvious but it is the ONLY answer that truly makes sense. Typically alcoholics just don't wake up one morning with a burning desire and iron-clad commitment to quit drinking...though it occasionally happens, it is very, very RARE.
No..they usually are miserable physically or in trouble somehow...with the spouse or the Law or at work, etc. We usually have to be pretty hopeless before you can pry our near-death fingers off that dang bottle...and that is the point: Most of us are completely without HOPE...life is all doom and gloom...pain being the most common feeling: it can be emotional, physical, psychological or even spiritual pain but the fact is that life is a royal mess and we are really hurting. There often appears to be no way out except suicide for a lot of us and many of us think about ending our lives often.
And some...like myself actually make an attempt to do so and some succeed...though some, again like myself weren't successful in their attempt. This is where we often find ourselves when we are at the end of our rope...without hope.
It only makes sense then that when HOPE actually begins to return it is very noticeable...But it isn't always that easy...I for example had a great deal of wreckage to deal with when I sobered up: Financial, my wife divorced me, I was estranged from my children, my parents and I'd lost most of my friends. I really hated myself and what I had become.
Everyone who finds recovery has their own story and each person is different so I won't say that my story is typical. The truth for me was that it took a good 4 years before I started to feel hopeful again. I would feel a little hopeful here and there but truly, it was 4 full years before I felt hopeful as a rule, each and every day feeling like I could actually do this recovery thing.
I now know that it was FAITH...absolute BLIND faith that carried me through all those years. I Had been starting to believe that there might be something to this "God Stuff" admitting to myself that there had to be some divine power in the universe though I still felt very mistrustful of the idea and absolutely hateful toward organized religion of ANY form.
It took time...a great deal of time and patience...just practicing a daily program of service to others, a reliance on a Higher Power over self and daily abstinence. Over time my life stabilized in all areas physically, emotionally, psychologically and finally...spiritually.
And I still believe today that this is an ongoing process...that one NEVER graduates...that it goes on and on until the day you mover on to another place or become worm food...whatever you believe.
I am not a naturally patient man so all of this was excruciatingly slow to change but it was worth it. I thought I would be bored with such a "boring" and "timid" life style of no Bars,no booze and no drugs. The thought of focusing on the needs of others didn't come naturally either but I found that enjoyable and rewarding almost right from the start . It FELT GOOD to serve...something Inever really knew.
So the lesson was that Hope returned but it took time...and I think that is what can impact the newcomer to recovery the most is the wait...most don't make it through the long, painful stretch where things don't get better right away and figure..."If this is recovery, forget it...I'd rather be miserable and DRUNK" and they relapse.
I think that is the hardest part...adjusting to a new kind of living and the fact that it can take a long, long time for some folks to fully make that transition.
But for me..Now, I wouldn't have it any other way. But that doesn't mean that I am out of danger for relapse. No...I believe that it can always happen if you let your guard down and especially if you start focusing on self over others. To me...that is the most critical part: Helping Others!