The last year of my life has been a roller coaster ride of anxiety, addiction, rehab, and recovery. I have detoxed in two hospitals, been in two intensive outpatient programs, been to a 28-day inpatient program, and dabbled in AA all along the way. Today I am 30 days sober and actively participating in my own recovery from both alcohol and anxiety. So why is this time different? Why will I be able to handle my anxiety without abusing alcohol? I think it can be summed up by the title of this post; I am finally “Doing the Next Right Thing.” I have finally sought help with my anxiety through psychiatry, therapy, and medicine. I am finally actively involved in AA, and most importantly I am not trying to figure out why “I” can do this on my own, and instead listening to others who are in recovery and dealing with similar issues to my own.
As a part of my recovery, I started reading some online recovery blogs, and then decided it might be therapeutic to begin blogging myself. Luckily it has been one of the many blessings of the last 30 days. Last night, I was reading a blog that I have begun to read in recovery, www.beautybeyondbones.com, when I began thinking about the process of recovery. I really enjoy this author’s writing. She is recovering from anorexia, and has selflessly gone home to be with her parents to help her mother recover from a stroke. Last night she wrote a beautiful post titled “Better Tomorrow” (https://beautybeyondbones.com/2017/02/06/night-owl/ ). If you read it, which you should, her mother says, “I will be better tomorrow,” to which the author gives the perfect response “I love you know matter what. You don’t have to be better tomorrow.” The truth is that I will never be “better tomorrow”, I will always have anxiety and addiction, but I can work to be a better person today and hope for a better tomorrow. Her response got me thinking about the process of recovery. Recovery is just another word for healing, whether it is mental, physical, or both. If we get just a little better each day, then each tomorrow will be a little better.
For me, recovery has been a process of healing my body from the abuse it took from alcohol, and my mind from anxiety and alcoholic thinking. I realize this recovery and healing will be a life long process. I have an anxiety disorder and the disease of addiction, both of which I have to address each day. The truth is that it’s not a matter of just dealing with it, but how I deal with it. The answer is by doing the next right thing. Humans are inherently flawed. We are not perfect, but it is how we deal with these imperfections that can define who we are. I believe that the human mind and body are always trying to make themselves whole (whatever that means). Whether or not you are diagnosed with anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, addiction, or a physical malady like a stroke, we are all trying to find peace of mind and body. This is probably why 1 in 4 people have a mental health issue!
Recovery is a beautiful thing because it allows us to be fully present for people we care about, to participate in events we wish to remember and cherish, and to help others who need us. Today in my AA meeting I shared some of these thoughts. I talked about how stories of recovery from any downturn can provide insight into our own recovery process.
The harsh reality is we are all broken, whether it be a mental health diagnosis, a disease, a physical injury, or anything else. It doesn’t really matter – if you are alive and breathing you have something bothering you. Inevitably, we will all fall short of our own expectations at some point. For me, it could be snapping at someone I care about, failing to pick up the phone and speak to a friend in need, leaving my coffee cup in the sink, etc. All of these things are guaranteed to happen; the only thing that is not guaranteed is what I will do next. When I slip, my goal is to get back up and do the next right thing. We cannot go back and fix what has already been done, but we can make amends for it and continue on our journey by making sure the next thing we do is positive. The alternative is to continue down our flawed paths and end up anxious, depressed, drunk, high, broken and alone. While we may never make it to the top of the mountain, I can promise you that you will never make it if you don’t start climbing.
“Courage is not living without fear, Courage is being scared to death and doing the right thing anyway.” – Chae Richardson