I just celebrated my 40th birthday. I am alive and thriving because no matter what happened, I was determined to stay the course of my recovery journey and do more than just survive. It wasn’t easy. I have now been in and out of recovery for half my life. If you want to get technical, I’ve been working on recovery my entire adult life. I entered an addiction recovery treatment program at the tender age of 21, but it didn’t stick the first time. Or the second. Or the third. I’m not a one-chip wonder, meaning I didn’t get sober once and stay clean the entire time. I did, however, make a serious decision to change my life ten years ago, and while it hasn’t been all smooth seas since, I have not strayed from that mindset.
The Recovery Journey Is More Challenging When Other Factors Are Involved
Recovery Is Rewarding At Any Age
1. There Will Be Good Years And Bad Years On The Recovery Journey
That’s just life. I had this sense that if I made it five years, my life would be merry. It doesn’t work that way. Business is up and down, relationships come and go, and then as you get older, you start to lose people. However, if you’re prepared and armed with a toolbox full of tools, nothing takes you out.
2. Getting Sober Was Only Step One
I needed enlightenment in many areas. Learning healthy boundaries was an unexpected adventure, as was sober dating. Both caused me as much discomfort as getting sober did. Seriously, detaching from enmeshed relationships felt physically painful to me at times. Learning to use food as fuel, not comfort, and becoming financially responsible was also difficult and stressful. There were years it felt like I was training for a recovery Olympics that I wanted no part in. But, somewhere along the way, I built a well-rounded recovery lifestyle. I’m almost to the point where I have every aspect of my life organized. Almost.
3. Relationships Are Still Hard
I thought I’d master and get relationships sorted out by now. Insert laughter here. While I find they are far less dramatic than they once were, I’m certainly no professional in this matter. I do believe I’ve become aware and considerate of other people’s feelings. It’s no longer all about me. I don’t believe I can change anyone and I would no longer dare to try. I also now know no one can change me. There is no magic pill, and there is no magic person. It’s all hard work. However, with age, I’ve come to enjoy the work and derive great satisfaction from my improvement.
4. Self Care Is Not All Baths and Mani-Pedis
I recently read an article about self-care being really hard. It said self-care is not all baths and mani-pedis. The article is correct. Real self-care is financial responsibility, emotional accountability, impulse control. Basically, adulting is really hard. It took a lot of practice for me to intuitively practice self-care and do things like grocery shop and plan out my whole week of meals, pay ALL my bills EVERY month, and try to stay gainfully employed. Making sure all areas of your life are organized and well cared for is almost impossible for anyone coming out of addiction. I didn’t open my mail for years. I didn’t understand financial “stuff,” and I had the emotional capacity of a 12-year-old. Caring about those things did not come naturally to me. I had to learn how to do them years into my recovery; then I had to be disciplined in practicing them until they became habit. Trust me, it’s easier to get addicted to drugs than paying your taxes.