I’ve got 38 days clean today.
I’ve spent these early days mired in recovery rhetoric, trying to figure out what is going to work for me in the long run. I think in some ways, I am substituting one obsession for another. I’ve heard you can’t get too much recovery, but sometimes it’s overwhelming, thinking about my past, safeguarding against relapse, avoiding triggers, when I just want to get on with my life.
For the most part, I feel great. I don’t have any lingering physical issues. I’m not hiding anything from my husband. I’m learning how to deal with “life on life’s terms”, as they say in AA, without searching for an escape.
But I do think about using, sometimes. Not often, and not for long, but it does cross my mind. That feeling of “not one thing in the world is wrong, nothing can touch me, it’s alllllll goooooood” when the opiates take hold is hard to forget.
Clearly, I need something besides willpower to help me stay clean.
AA is not for me. Not in the way they want you to work it. I have gotten a lot out of going to meetings and talking with other people dealing with this affliction, and I think the Promises are wonderful, but when it came to working the steps, I stalled. I found someone who “had what [I] wanted” and asked her to be my sponsor, but as we started our work, I didn’t feel the same sense of optimism I had had before. I felt like my recovery was no longer in my control. More than anything, I didn’t believe I needed to be “restore[d] to sanity” and I sure as shit wasn’t going to “turn [my] will and [my] life over to God as I understood him.” Belief in a higher power (or not) aside, I want to feel like I am in charge of my own destiny, in my recovery and in all aspects of my life. My former sponsor tells me I won’t succeed without AA. I want to tell her she is full of shit, but in an effort to continue my personal evolution, I just tell her I appreciate her opinion. She’s got her mind made up, and that’s fine—I do too.
SMART Recovery sounds like a better fit for me. It says right there in the group name, "Self Managed." The first point in their approach is “teaches self-empowerment and self-reliance.” That is right where I want to be. My first meeting is next week. It feels good to feel hopeful and in control again.
Julie is a 40-something professional, married with a soon-to-be 10-year-old son. She has recently come to the realization that her decades-long Vicodin and marijuana use are keeping her from living the life she could be living.
In her own words, "I'm ready to live differently, and I think I'm already starting, even though I haven't stopped yet."