As it stands in this moment, it’s near midnight on a Monday and I can’t sleep because, for whatever reason, I’m feeling compelled to write about two specific topics: Freedom and Happiness.
Freedom (noun): the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
Before I got sober, I would have told you I had freedom: freedom to go where I wanted to, and say and do what I wanted to. In this practical sense, I did have freedom. However, I’ve learned to define freedom differently as a result of finding a spiritual way of living – one that has afforded me a sense of freedom that I never knew possible.
To put it simply, I experienced “necessity, coercion, and constraint” relative to my reliance on worldly things. I believed that the key to happiness, peace, serenity, freedom lay within my circumstances. Meaning, if I could just get the job, if I could just get the girl, if I could get a certain degree, make a certain amount of money, live in a specific place, I would be happy. Every choice, every action was a desperate attempt to get what I thought I needed or what I wanted.
But what did it really get me? Unhappiness; I was resentful, discontented, dissatisfied, depressed, afraid – it was the spiritual space I lived in. All because I needed the world and its people to provide me a certain sense of security, a certain peace, a certain happiness, and it failed me – over and over, again. I was imprisoned by all those things that I thought would get me free.
Fortunately, I was confronted with a solution. I simply needed to seek someone or something else for all those things I truly needed. I needed something I can depend on, something I can trust in, something that is constant, unfailing, reliable. Something that has my best interests at heart; something that will love me unconditionally; support me with unwavering and reckless abandon; something big enough and powerful enough to provide for me all the things I was looking for in the wrong places. For me, that solution is God.
On page 68 of the Recovery Text it reads,
For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely upon Him, does he enable us to match calamity with serenity.
The Recovery Text gave me simple directions for shifting my reliance away from myself and the details of my circumstances to a Power much greater than all those things. As I went through the work for the first time I started to experience what it meant to be truly free. And the truth is that from the outside I didn’t have much: I didn’t have a place to live, I had a net worth of 76 cents, I had burned my relationships to the ground; no job; no girl; no car; no income. But for the first time in my adult life, I felt free. And through this freedom I found what I had always been searching for but could never find: Happiness.
Happy (adjective): Satisfied with the quality or standard of.
-Oxford Dictionary, 2017
There I was, with none of the things I thought I needed to be happy, and I was experiencing real happiness.
Throughout my time in recovery I have lost a job, faced financial insecurity, and gone through break-ups. I have had and lost all the things that I used to believe I needed to be happy. In my previous life, losing these things would cause anger, fear, sadness, confusion, anxiety, etc. And as I go through these times in my recovery I’ve come to realize that, as strange as it may seem, I’m still “happy” by its definition. You see, my happiness is no longer an outcome of my circumstances; I no longer place my reliance on these this to provide me happiness. As a result, losing things in sobriety does little to affect my happiness, although losing these things may cause me temporary discomfort.
Thus, I’ve come to learn that at the foundation of real freedom and real happiness is one constant: God. He is my solution; He is my freedom; He is my happiness.
Director of Recovery Services