This article is by Olivia Pennelle and published by Recovery.org
I entered into recovery feeling completely broken – like I was shattered into a million little pieces. But recovery taught me I didn’t need to fix myself. In fact, I learned how to weave those pieces into a beautiful mosaic and love every inch of it.
The lessons in recovery are endless and sometimes they come all at once. There are times when I struggle to catch my breath. I feel like I can’t cope…yet, I do. Over the course of the last five years, I’ve grown up, developed my identity, accepted who I am, learned how to integrate in this world, and gained new coping strategies.
A Tutorial in Sobriety
It’s hard to distill five years of recovery knowledge into five distinct points, but I’ll try.
- Lesson #1 – I Am Enough
I’ve spent my entire life feeling desperate to be liked. I tried to morph into the size and shape acceptable to others. It never worked – I was just too out of it to realize that. Sobriety awakened my sense of reality. I finally saw I’m okay just as I am. I learned I don’t need to change myself for others to like me. As long as I’m true to myself and confident being that person, people will either like me or they won’t – and that’s no reflection of my self-worth. I am worthy without the validation of others.
- Lesson #2 – I Learned Who I Am
Over the last five years, I’ve taken the time to get to know me: who I am, what makes me tick – my values, moral compass, boundaries – my likes, my dislikes, my passions. I learned I have a strong sense of justice, I’m creative, and I can cook and write (well). My writing voice has become my biggest gift; I‘ve developed a worldwide voice that has now become my career.
- Lesson #3 – I Can Do Anything
I’ve lived in the depths of despair – where I was faced with a choice between suicide or recovery. That was my rock bottom. I chose recovery, witnessed my own transformation, and realized I could do anything. I tested this theory numerous times: I changed jobs, lost 60 pounds, became a blogger, moved to a new continent, and stopped letting others control my life. Those challenges weren’t without fear, but I achieved them.
- Lesson #4 – Everything Will Be Okay
Growing up, I never had this affirmation. I sought validation and safety in all of my relationships. I always feared the worst and had a constant feeling of doom. By reaching out and trying new things, I learned everything would be okay. Recovery isn’t without hardship and problems, but I’m always okay.
- Lesson #5 – You Have a Choice
You can choose to live in addictive behaviors – fear, anger, obsession, escapism – or you can choose recovery and deal with the issues you’re trying to avoid or escape. Invariably, the problems are usually never as big as they feel and they’re infinitely easier to deal with when you’re present in your own life.
Now that I’ve shared my own recovery lessons, let’s talk about yours. What has a life without drugs or alcohol taught you? What have you learned about yourself that you’re proud of? Share your experiences in the comments section below – you never know, they might inspire someone else to seek help. Remember, we’re all in this together!