Maybe it was because I got clean and sober before I could legally drink, but I was faced with a need for personal reinvention in recovery when I first got into the Program.
Although I would have denied it up and down, I really did tie a lot of who I was and what I believed into drinking and using. Is it pathetic and embarrassing to look back on it? Hell yeah, it is. At the same time, I did not appreciate just how true the reality was.
Like many addicts and alcoholics, I was that social chameleon. I could change social groups and settings relatively easily because, frankly, I felt like the king of the world when I was drunk and/or high. It did not matter who I was surrounded by; I felt just as good as anyone I was with.
Again, like many addicts and alcoholics, though, I felt incredibly awkward and inferior around others when I was not somehow inebriated. To avoid this, there was a simple solution: just be drunk or high all the time. It seemed a perfectly reasonable solution for a good stretch there.
Given that I am writing this blog, it is safe to assume we know what happened next.
When that barrier, safety mechanism, or whatever you want to call it gets removed, though, then what? What does the newly sober addict/alcoholic do when the wounds are still fresh?
Assuming the person in question remains clean and sober, some of us develop our portfolio of other addictions, while others do things the right way and throw themselves into recovery, riding through the waves of discomfort and self-consciousness to see what happens naturally.
I wish I had known back then, again assuming that the person stays clean and sober, we all end up going the au natural route whether we like it or—more often—not. The beauty of it, though, is we eventually see that there is nothing to fear from these changes.
“You changed, man…” Those are the words most addict/alcoholics fear hearing when they first get clean and sober. For those of us with some time, those words are music to our ears. Thank God we changed! Our friends, family, and community sure are not disappointed, either.
What do we become, you ask? Anything we want. No, really, we can become just about anything we can imagine. While some wreckage might prevent us from travelling down certain professional paths, nothing stands in the way of our evolution as people trying to carry a message of hope and understanding to those who rarely get either. We become people we would have loved, or would have loathed. And both are equally acceptable, provided we are carrying the message and practicing the principles that have given us our new lease on life.
Personal reinvention in recovery is a natural byproduct of working The Steps. The more work we put into them, and the more we dedicate ourselves to the work, the more accepting of the world—and ourselves—we become.
Reinvention in Recovery
What do you think? Did you undergo a personal reinvention in recovery? Let us know in the comments!