Everyone who has ever started a sober journey does because they are sick and tired of being tired and sick – they want something better than the desperation, dysfunction, and despair that accompanies the disease of addiction. The first time we walked through the doors of an alcohol or drug rehab facility or attended a 12-Step fellowship meeting, we were reassured that no matter where we have been or what we have done life will get better with sobriety. In fact, we are PROMISED wonderful things if we will only work our recovery. This Christmas, let’s reflect each day on the gifts we have been given since we got sober:
Recovery Gift #1 – “Hope, Instead of Desperation”
This precious gift represents everything that we needed and desired when we began recovery—a way up and out from the pit of addiction. Being re-introduced to something better makes us believe that it is possible for us to enjoy the same good things in life that others have.
Recovery Gift #2 – “Faith, Instead of Despair”
Where we once were trapped in darkness, we see the light of a new and better life. We have learned to trust in our own personal conception of a Higher Power, and we believe that our life will turn out as it should.
Recovery Gift #3 – “Courage, Instead of Fear”
Addiction is fueled by fear – fear of others, fear of pain, fear of both the known and the unknown. Now that we are in recovery, we no longer define ourselves by that fear or relinquish our will to it.
Recovery Gift #4 – “Peace of Mind, Instead of Confusion”
Every day in active addiction is chaotic, and the uncertainty that this chaos brings pulls us down even further into addiction. In recovery, we live a much more serene and stable life, and we have learned to step back and slow down.
Recovery Gift #5 – “Self-Respect, Instead of Self-Contempt”
Addiction breeds guilt, remorse, and overwhelming feelings of shame, which we try to numb with even more substance abuse. In recovery, we unburden ourselves of those negative emotions, and, thus free, we learn to see the value of ourselves just as we are.
Recovery Gift #6 – “Self-Confidence, Instead of Helplessness”
When we were actively drinking and drugging, we were beaten by our addiction. It had gone beyond our control and stolen our life from us. Now that we are in recovery, we have learned to trust in our own ability to meet any challenge before us. We have reclaimed our lives.
Recovery Gift #7 – “The respect of others, instead of their pity and contempt.”
Our addiction-control behaviors sabotaged every relationship. We lied, broke promises, and hurt others, with no regard for the consequences. We could not comprehend our own worth, and our actions colored help others saw us. Now, we strive to be the best we can be, and we measure our worth by how we feel about ourselves. And, by trying to live in accordance with our own principles, we have ironically become worthy of respect by others.
Recovery Gift #8 – “A Clean Conscience, Instead of a Sense of Guilt”
One of the basic tenets of recovery is our willingness to make amends for the harm we have caused others in the past. When we sincerely and personally apologize, try to directly make up for any wrongs we have done, or at the very least, make sincere efforts to do so, we wipe our slate clean and begin afresh.
Recovery Gift #9 – “Real Friendships, Instead of Loneliness”
While we were actively addicted, we probably had many drinking in drug buddies who were always willing to “party” with us, but in most cases, these weren’t real friends. Sometimes, the only thing we had in common was the addiction. We could not trust them to really love us and want the best for us. It’s not their fault – they were just as sick as we were. In recovery, we make or rebuild relationships that are based on mutual trust, respect, and affection. We give of ourselves willingly, instead of as a means of manipulation, and in turn, we receive the same.
Recovery Gift #10 – “A Clean Pattern of Life, Instead of a Purposeless Exist”
On any given day, active addicts bounce from one high or one drink to the next. Their every action is compelled by the need to seek more substances. In recovery, freed from that overpowering need, we are able to honor our commitments – our families, our jobs, our relationships, our service, and our other obligations and responsibilities. We are then able to enjoy the life that we have built.
Recovery Gift #11 – “The Love and Understanding of Our Families, Instead of Their Doubts and Fears”
When we were actively addicted, we routinely let our families down – when they would try to help us, we would twist that health to something that enabled us to keep drinking and keep drugging. Our own actions taught them to lose confidence in our promises. It may have taken a while, and in fact, we may still be trying, but eventually, our new honest, stable, and sober life will demonstrate to our families that they can love us without fear. They understand that we have a disease and that we are doing everything our power to manage how it impacts our lives.
Recovery Gift #12 – “The Freedom of a Happy Life, Instead of the Bondage of an Addictive Obsession”
Addiction hijacked our brains, to the point that we were slaves to alcohol, pills, pipes, powders, and intoxicants of every sort. Our wills were not our own, and all of our actions served to feed our addictions. True freedom from addiction means that we have the RIGHT to be happy. We have the RIGHT to those things and form those relationships that are in our best interests. When we take the time to reflect upon and appreciate the gifts of recovery, we come to understand the value of the work we have done and that we continue to do. In other words, we reinforce the message to ourselves that we work at our recovery, the promises we were made are kept, and the rewards ALWAYS come.