Updated: Jul 1, 2020
Sometimes people are surprised at how seriously I take my recovery. I’ve missed out on get-together’s with friends because I have had to go to a meeting. I’ve had to leave family events because a sponsee called. I’ve answered the phone in the middle of the night to talk to someone for hours that I met once at a meeting. I don’t do this because I am some kind of saint. And I am not in any way implying that I am some sort of self-sacrificing humanitarian. The truth is I do this because I have an obligation to. I have an obligation to my sobriety and therefore an obligation to myself. It may seem like I put my recovery above everything else, and that is because I do!
As an alcoholic, I must take every step with caution. I am at all times only one sip away from a complete fall back into my addiction. Even after two years of remaining sober, I need to always be mindful of this truth because I have experienced the feeling of slipping when I ignore it.
Throughout my journey in sobriety I have been completely devoted to my recovery program. I have had times when I was operating on all cylinders; going to multiple meetings a week, working with a recovery coach, working with a sponsor, working with a sponsee, volunteering in the recovery community and being whole -heartedly of service….
But I have also had times when I let my recovery take a back seat. For whatever reasons I made up in my head, I did not have “TIME”. But here’s the thing about “TIME”; you never have it, you always have to make it. I’ve gone through periods where I stopped making time and let distractions creep in. Sometimes it was a new relationship, or a new job, or I just didn’t feel like spending my free time working on myself. But what I learned is that whether I like it or not, as an alcoholic, I am always going to live on an imaginary scale.
On one end of the scale I am my absolute best version but on the other end I am my alcoholic worst self. Whether you see it as a curse or a gift, each day I make choices that bring me closer to addiction or further away from it. And if I don’t do certain things such as work with my recovery coach, connect with fellow alcoholics and work on myself, I end up slipping backwards.
Addiction is a very dark and lonely place, and it is not something I can recover from and get to forget. It is always lurking, always waiting for me to misstep. As I have experienced, trying to ignore it only brings me closer to a relapse. It doesn’t take that many bad choices to end up on the bad side of the scale and to be completely sliding down to my worst version again.
The only way to keep the life I have now is to continue to prioritize my recovery. I don’t put it first because I care less about my family or friends; I put it first because I care about them now more than ever. And the best way to care for them and myself is to keep my addiction as far away as possible. To do so there are things I have to do that takes up my time; time I could be spending with them instead. Sometimes I have to miss out on things, but the people that love me love that I am present 100% of the time when I am in their presence. Especially since they know what it’s like for me to be lost in addiction and mentally gone.
So yes, I do put my recovery first, but I put it first so that I can fully be there for everything and everyone else the rest of the time!