FREEDOM IN RECOVERY
Before I got into treatment and recovery one of the things (fears) that used to hold me up from even admitting that I had a problem with alcohol and drugs was the idea that entering into recovery seemed like a trap, like some kind of mental prison. I thought that once I crossed the invisible line form “party boy” to alcoholic/drug addict, I would forever be in a box that defined my every move. Never again would I be free to be who I thought I was. Or never again would I go to concerts and be free to enjoy a band. I was going to take on the label of “alcoholic” and this would define me forever.
Since being in recovery I have discovered a serious fallacy in that thinking. When I was drinking and using, there was never a moment of any day or night when I did not think about drinking and using. If I was working I didn’t think about quitting time so much as how many more hours, minutes, and seconds before I could crack one open. If I was with family, all I thought about was getting away and picking up, or, what is worse, I drank in front of them and embarrassed and alarmed them. The point is, all of my being was defined by drinking and using. Even when I went out to a show (in reality, by the end of my drinking days I never went out. I drank at home alone) I never remembered the band or what they sounded like. I was wasted. Even my time for fun was defined by alcohol and drugs. There was no time and no place for me that did not include drinking and using or thinking about drinking and using. I was in my own private prison and I fully believed I was free. There is an old saying about the bird who is raised in a cage and thinks flying is an illness. That was me.
Getting into treatment and recovery did not exactly change my mind about all of this as it showed me the flaws in my thinking. From the moment I admitted step 1, I mean really admitted to myself that I am powerless over alcohol and my life has become unmanageable, I was set free. Yes, I need to work the steps and practice the principles in all of my affairs. Everyone, alcoholic or otherwise, has to practice some type of principles in all of their affairs. Mine are the steps and by doing this I have never been more free. I am free of the relentless preoccupation with drinking and using. I am free to see a band and experience every song and every note they play. I am free to get up in the morning and not be sick or ashamed. That prison I believed I was entering was in fact the door out of a prison I had built around myself. The day I walked out of that and into recovery I discovered a world of free people just like me who have been relieved of the burden of drinking and using. Recovery is freedom.