Monday, March 16, 2009

Restoration Through Recovery

I look at recovery in the same sense I look at restoration. Allow me to explain.
My sponsor, whom I adore, is thorough. My stepwork involves typically ten typed pages of work. Not all sponsers sponsor this way but mine does. As I go through these steps I am seeing a very clear thread come to fruition. This is the overall thread of restoration.

As I've heard a wise man say, "This is not about making a bad man good. This is about making a good man well." This is incredibly true. Addicts and alcoholics, whether born with a predisposition to addiction or not, were not born to be bad people. The process of becoming addicted and allowing that addiction to become the most important and sometimes the only priority in life is par for the course for an addict. We were born to be well, born to be whole and born to be happy. Anything that veers away from that original design is not part of the original design. The life of an addict is like building a monument. Each resentment, each painful experience in life, each time we are shorted our end of the deal is like placing a brick in the monument. There comes a time when the monument is so big and so daunting it seems insurmountable. Enter hopelessness.
Drug and alcohol treatment is the first step toward loosening the bricks of this monument. With each step taken in honesty and right motives, we are removing a rock from that wall and allowing ourselves to be accessable to the good that lies ahead if we continue walking in recovery.
My sponsor has made it clear that by working the 12 steps, we will find our "true selves" and let go of the "false selves" that addiction has created. I hear families I work with talk about how their loved one just "isn't the same ___________ we used to know." They are right. Only through progressing in sobriety will we find out exactly who we were meant to be. By the time we get sober, the wall between who we are and who we were meant to be is extraordinarilly large.
Once we get into recovery, there are very simple steps that must be taken on a regular basis to keep the monument from being formed again. In addition to working with a sponsor, going to meetings and participating in service to others, there are little things that can have a big impact in the quality of our lives. These things, in my opinion, consist of holding onto anger, negative self talk, ungratefullness and self pity. Each time we pick up the brick of negative confession (speaking negative things about ourselves, our lives or otherwise) we are building our monument. Each time we refuse to see the good that we have in our lives because we are more comfortable in our misery, we are placing a brick in the wall.
Even in sobriety, the wall can become so insurmountalbe, we feel hopeless and even angry. Nothing is so scary as a hopeless sober alcoholic or addict. It simply should not be. We have been restored. We are in recovery. These things alone are a testament to the goodness at play in our lives.
Building a monument of negativity will do much: it will cut us off from peace, it will steal our joy and will make us inaccessable to the "sunlight of the spirit". This sunlight is what allows us to see the good in our life, the good in others and the good works taking place as a result of no longer being spiritually bankrupt. See, through recovery, we are no longer living in the darkness of addiction. There is light, and not just as the end of the tunnel. We no longer have to live in the tunnel at all. By relieving ourselves of the fear, shame, hate and other character defects we discover in ourselves, we are becoming reachable and teachable to our Higher Power and the blessings He so desperately wants to impart to us.
Leave the bricks alone! They will build a monument that cuts us off from the goodness in the world and the gratitude we are to have for this new life we've been given. Take positive steps, create solid positive bricks and build on the foundation that we are creating in our sobriety. Declare positive affirmation, speak positive words and take a moment each day to reflect on the things you are grateful for. Simple? Yes. Tedious at times? Yes. Powerful? Bet on it.

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