3 Things I Wish I Had Known About Recovery
It has been 5 years since I first began questioning my love affair with alcohol and opiates and almost 3 years that I’ve been sober. Prior to living in recovery, my life mirrored the movie Butterfly Effect. I knew the end result, of my actions, yet I continued to tweak little things here and there hoping I could change the outcome without giving up my beloved vices. Each morning I woke up to the same obsessive and compulsive pattern that ultimately led me to the point of no return—I knew something had to change.
When I decided to consider sobriety, I was thoroughly convinced I was waving a white flag of weakness for the world to see. Will I be likable sober? What will my life look like without drugs and alcohol? Wait, does this mean I can’t have a drink on my wedding day? The insanity: I wasn’t even in a relationship, yet my brain went to the extremes of weighing out all possible scenarios of what my life will look like without alcohol. My addiction was pleading its cause before I even put down the bottle. Walking into recovery, I felt like I was thrown out of a plane, in a foreign country, with no road map and completely ignorant to the native language. Nothing was familiar. Truthfully, without drugs and alcohol, I was not familiar with who I was.
The first few months of my sobriety were filled with fear, uncertainty, and uncharted territory. I was staring this new scenery face to face and I could either walk through the fear or run back to the bottle. Fortunately, through perseverance, pain, consistency, triumphs, failures, and the support of many beautiful women I was able to grow from every experience without self-medicating. In retrospect, if I had listened to the suggestions and experiences of the women I met in sobriety, I believe I could’ve been spared from a multitude of unnecessary pain. Here are a few things I wish I had known knew about recovery:
It Gets Better
In early recovery, I was convinced that my life was over and I would never experience happiness again. I thought that life, abstinence from drugs and alcohol, was a death sentence—one that would ensure I never had any fun and I fully experienced every horrible emotion to its fullest extent with no reprieve. I believed I wasn’t the real addict until I was completely sober and utterly miserable. I finally conceded to my innermost self that despite consequences and upbringing there is a reason that my behaviors and feelings mirrored everyone else I encountered. I finally bought into the idea that through working the steps and having had a spiritual awakening, things would get better. With each day’s passing, I am continuously in awe of the blessings that I get to experience on a daily basis. Today, I truly live a life beyond my wildest dreams.
Spare the Judgement: It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
I was notorious for playing the part, painting a pretty picture on the outside. Truth be told, I was dying inside. Spiritually bankrupt and suffering from true alcoholism, I was self-medicating with no intention of getting honest with myself, much less anyone else. Emotions were presented to me, at an early age, as a sign of weakness. I internalized every good, bad, and indifferent emotion in fear of judgment and I became my own worst enemy. I would judge and criticize myself before anyone else had the chance. In early recovery, my perfectionistic ideas did not escape me overnight. In fact, I was more critical than ever before. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that it is okay to not be okay.
Over the years, I’ve had good days, bad days, self-praising days, and self-loathing days but one constant is the gratitude that fills all of my days. I have learned that feelings are feelings, not facts. I still suffer from anxiety, but I no longer have to self medicate. Instead, I utilize the tools I’ve learned in recovery to help mitigate the symptoms. Today, I welcome trials as an opportunity for growth and I try not to judge my failures but rather accept the grace that meets me in that place.
You Will Build Lifelong Relationships in Recovery
Throughout my life, I never really felt “a part of’ ” I was a chameleon down to my very core. I would change shades in hopes of relishing invalidation from anyone handing it out. Coming from a broken home, this idea started from birth. From my experience, love was very conditional. If I could transform myself into the perfect daughter, sister, and friend then I would always feel loved. Unattainable perfection drove my despairing self-esteem. My behavior and internal conflicts shifted with my evolving environments. It wasn’t until I started connecting with strong women, that I got a taste of recovery and the promises started to come true. I began finding women that had common goals, responsibilities and displayed the characteristics of the woman I desperately wanted to be. I have seen members of the fellowship offer help, without hesitation, to other members looking to find a job, housing, legal aid, and support. Through the 12 Steps, there’s an intimate vulnerability required. The kind of vulnerability that requires the addict to divulge their deepest darkest secrets with another addict. An undeniable spiritual experience occurs during the process and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
You Won’t Regret the Past, Nor Wish to Shut the Door on it.
I spent my entire life regretting the past and anxious over the future, but never present in the moment. I was always wishing I could change my past experiences and catapult myself somewhere else. I was never truly able to accept that maybe everything happened exactly the way it was supposed to. In recovery, there’s a secret society made up of the world’s “throwaways”, stepping out in love and successfully overcoming seemingly fatal adversity. Laying down age-old resentments, making amends to family/friends we’ve hurt, growing spiritually, and dying to ourselves daily to help the next struggling addict…is the remedy for any spiritual malady.
Through my failures, I got the opportunity to grow and accept this ever-evolving journey. It has been said, “Without suffering, there can be no compassion.” I believe, to my very core, that I wouldn’t be half the woman I am today without every single tear, heartache, and painful experience that has crossed my path. I get the opportunity to use my past as a platform for grace, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
About the Author
Tricia Moceo is an Outreach Specialist for Recovery Local, a local addiction/recovery based marketing company. She advocates long-term sobriety by writing for websites like detoxlocal.com and, providing resources to recovering addicts and shedding light on the disease of addiction. Tricia is a single mother of two, actively involved in her local recovery community, and is passionate about helping other women find hope in seemingly hopeless situations.