For a lot of people, recovery is not a linear path that can be walked without some bumps in the road.  Not all people relapse, but it is a part of many people’s stories.  When we honestly and thoroughly work our steps, stay connected with our fellowship, and maintain a spiritual connection, it is easier to recognize when we are struggling and when we need to take further action to prevent a relapse.  Sometimes, we may not even be aware that we are entering the dangerous territory of being in “relapse mode.”  Certain behaviors and actions can change, and our emotional, mental, and spiritual selves can feel discontented.  Some signs of relapse behavior include:

-Not going to meetings as regularly.

-Disconnecting from your fellowship and not reaching out to as many people.

-Not calling your sponsor.

-Feelings of hopelessness and depression.

-Isolating.

-Engaging in destructive behaviors (i.e, stealing or shoplifting, lying, breaking house rules, unhealthy eating and sleeping,  halt in spiritual practices)

 

When left to our own vices, we have been shown time and time again that we cannot successfully run our own lives without the help of the program.  When we are feeling ourselves slipping, it is important to tell someone and take a moment to ground ourselves.  We can make a gratitude list, showing us the things to be thankful for due to our sobriety and our recovery.  We can call our sponsors, call a friend, or speak up at a meeting.  Fear and shame have no place to run our lives and dictate our actions.  If we are struggling, we can be reminded that there is hope for us after all, and walk through the pain and come out stronger.

 

Service Work

 

Working with others is a key element in any twelve step program for long term success and a sense of fulfillment.  Whether we practice our twelfth step by sponsoring others, or we are of service in any sense to our homegroup by making coffee or chairing a meeting, we must give back to the program that so freely helped us get to where we are today.  Service inside and outside of our twelve step fellowships provides a sense of usefulness.  Giving back and focusing on others, rather than ourselves and our problems, helps take us out of our narrow-minded view of what is going on around us, giving us the opportunity to focus on what we can do for others.

Anyone can be of service whether they have less than 30 days, or 10 or more years.  There is no requirement of time to help others.  If we are practicing principles of the program, we are acting with integrity and thinking of others over ourselves.  We can attain a sense of freedom and gratitude when we find ourselves helping others and not so focused on the little things that cause us stress in our daily lives.  Whether we are greeting people at the door to a meeting, bringing a meeting into a hospital, or even chairing a committee, we are contributing to something greater than ourselves and our own sobriety.  We are participating and we are active in the makings of the fellowship we need to survive.

 

I would like to start this post off by saying Thank You to everyone who participated in our Open House this week.  From the team that put it all together to the folks who came to show support, meet each other, and eat good food, everyone played a key role in the overall success in the opening of the Oasis by Camelback Recovery.  I would like to personally state my gratitude for my incredible team as well as my network of professionals I have come to respect and value.  This event would not have been possible if it had not been for the willingness of everyone to show compassion, understanding, and patience in our professional lives.  You have all taught me so much and I am excited to continue to learn and grow with you all.

With the week wrapping up, looking back, I am able to reflect upon the stress that comes with putting an event together with a focus on details and balancing every day work tasks with an extra emphasis on time management and priorities of deadlines.  It has made me realize the importance of working together as a team, and in relation to my own recovery, it mirrors the element of not having to tackle obstacles on my own.  This event was a true example of leaning on people I trust for support and coming together with a beautiful end result that truly was a group effort.  Similar to my own journey as a sober woman working a program, I have been able to ask for help without fear of judgement from my coworkers, rely upon our collective abilities and have faith that things would work out, and give up my own insecurities and fears to allow the day to play out on its own accord.                                                         

I learned a lot this week, both professionally and personally.  Today, I am grateful for my connection with a higher power, the team I get to work with, the amazing community I am building in this industry, the initial opportunity to be a part of this field, and the compassion and support I feel on a daily basis.

This week, my best friend would have been 26 years old.  It’s been four years since he died, and every birthday without him still feels strange.  The irony of his birthday falling within the same week as National Overdose Awareness Day doesn’t surprise me, for the little idiosyncrasies of life’s natural flow never cease to provide deeper meaning to the otherwise seemingly meaningless events that take place.  Whether or not I overanalyze or over-assign meaning to dates, times, and events, doesn’t discount the grief I still feel even after all of this time has passed.  I was deep in my addiction when he passed, unable to see my inevitable fate if I hadn’t gotten the help I needed.  While friends have died since then, and my perception to the unfair hurdles life throws at us sometimes has also changed, grief is a constant battle.  It looks and feels different today, but it is still there.

How I handle my grief today is different.  I know it comes up unexpectedly, and that it doesn’t need to look or feel a certain way.  Sometimes, it hits me out of nowhere, and I find myself lost in a daydream of what could have been, or I find myself stuck on memories of what it was like.  No matter what comes up, I find myself in a position today, grounded in acceptance, where I don’t shame myself for feeling sad, confused, or angry at the losses I have experienced.

I’ve been asked before to write commemorative pieces, to speak at services, to provide tangible proof of life and death for a person who lost to their addiction.  It is humbling and painful to do such things, for the memories I have, both the good and the bad, have to suffice in times where words do not seem to do justice.  I can share my experience, I can share my pain, and I can share my hope, but I cannot bring people back, nor can I stop them from using in the first place.  I am empathetic for those who have struggled the way I have, for those who have lost loved ones, for those who have gotten stuck in their grief to where they cannot see any other side to it other than the one full of constant pain and fear.  I am grateful today to know that it is okay to still mourn, even after years have passed.  I know the pain subsides and gets easier to manage as time goes on, and I know I will have the love in my heart that comes with their memories to carry on and spread a message of perseverance.  I also know it is okay if I need to take some time to light a candle, look at a picture, and cry today.