I love the snappy slogans from 12-step programs. One of my favourites is, Progress, Not Perfection.”
I’m coming up to a FIVE-YEAR celebration of being continually free from addictions. It’s a milestone for me. I’ve previously managed to go a year or two at a time, but – since my recovery journey began in 2009 – I had relapsed on a far-too-regular basis.
As I reflect on the past, there are so many thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I had often referred to my addictions as an Emotional Disease!
The phrase ‘spiritual enlightenment’ used to really piss me off, because I believed it was an unachievable bar set by 12-step programs that only served to discourage people who could not acquire a “God-consciousness.” What I’ve grown to realize is that, as long as I continue to exert consistent & persistent efforts to help myself, the enlightenment has come in the form of a profound alteration in my reactions to life’s adversities.
When I think back to 2009 when I was living in absolute desperation of wanting to get myself out of the self-destructive cycle of addictive drinking/drugging… I couldn’t even imagine achieving freedom from the insanity of my life.
It took me 8 years of relapsing to finally get a grasp on my life, and to accept that I could not ‘moderate’ my intake of harmful substances. Part of the reason it took so long was that I was still functional. I managed to keep my job, house, car, finances… I managed to hide my addictions very well. The so-called ‘rock bottom’ for me was emotional, mental, and psychological. Maybe it wasn’t the stereotypical rock bottom that many refer to in 12-step groups, but it was my rock bottom. Did I make bad decisions and poor choices? Oh, absolutely! Can I blame alcohol and drugs on those decisions alone, no. I know that, now. Do I still have a lot to learn about myself and life? Oh yeah, and I’m happily heading in those directions while I navigate this new path of life.
These past few years have seen a lot of tears, change, confusion, self-doubt, learning, success, joy, happiness, and peace.
Part of my peace and serenity comes from connection and peer support in any form. There is something therapeutic that comes from sharing and listening that happens among people who are having the same struggles. I still go to 12-step meetings, but I now “take what I need and leave the rest!” I don’t label myself with words like alcoholic or addict. I am not my addictions. Labels belong on food, not people.
It’s also been helpful for me to create a structured routine, and it’s a routine that starts and ends with the Tibetan’s custom of the”Cup of Life & Death.”
I like the “One Day at a Time” approach to life. Using the sunset as closure for a day lived to the best of my ability and the sunrise as another new beginning. It helps me stay focused on living in the “present,” and also focused on my daily motto: “What Can I Do, From Where I Am, With What I Have, Today?”
May the force be with you, and – remember –
YOU are the force!
About the Author:
Tanya MacIntyre is a former broadcast journalist who packed up negative news for positive media. In 2018, she decided to start speaking and writing publicly about her challenges to overcome drug & alcohol addictions.
Tanya is unabashedly optimistic about the human capacity to heal and the ability to tap into the wellspring of compassion that is self-energy and self-love. Her professional focus is healing trauma and addictions. As a CBT Consultant, she devotes herself to training, writing, and mentoring.
Tanya lives on the West Coast of Ontario with her husband, where they run an addiction-recovery business. In her leisure, she likes spending time in nature and volunteering with mental-health groups. To learn more about Tanya and her work, visit https://redroofrecovery.com
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