You are never alone. I wish I could have known this truth at certain times in my life. It would have been helpful years ago when I was walking on a three story ledge with a bottle in my hand, or when I was driving my car 90mph under the influence indifferent to whether I was putting myself and others in danger. I remember at both of those times, I felt very alone. My addiction had taken away who I was meant to be, and in those moments when I felt so separate from everyone and everything, it would have meant a lot to know that I wasn’t really alone. I am so grateful I am here today, that I can write this article, work in recovery, and that my life is joyous, filled with freedom, and so fulfilling. I never would have imagined that back then when I was in addiction, when I felt like an island.
Prior to my recovery, there were many fearful, isolated moments in my life, too numerous to count. I struggled with a sense of belonging all my life. I remember even as a young child that I felt different from others. I also remember when I walked into my very first AA meeting I knew I belonged, I was home, and I found my tribe.
It is important to have a sense of belonging, because addiction is a disease of isolation. Addiction feeds on isolation and separateness. When we feel separated from others, whether as a young child, young adult or mature adult, we suffer. We can relapse, we can feel hopeless. This can be represented by a separation within ourselves, and also a feeling of separation from others. If we think or feel we are unique, and separate ourselves via social status, years of sobriety, number of relapses, money, age, sex or any other factor we come up with, we are limiting our recovery potential. We need to bridge the gap between separation and uniqueness by reaching outside of ourselves and connecting to others. Connect the dots.
What I find helpful in my recovery is no matter how unique I think I am, I share a common bond with my recovery family: Addiction. There is no separateness here. It is what binds us together. All the other factors mentioned above do not matter when it comes down to it. Also, no matter where I go in the world, my Recovery Family goes with me. For example, in the beginning of my recovery I attended a 2 -week meditation retreat in Abadiania, Brazil (meditation and me in the beginning of my recovery did not mesh at all). It was a small remote town with dirt roads and horses parked downtown. Believe it or not, I found an AA meeting there with people from all over the world! We came together and supported each other. A family brought together by addiction. No matter where I travel in the world, my Recovery Family can be found. Since the beginning of my recovery, I have never felt alone. I can always find that bond, remind myself how grateful I am to be in recovery, find belonging, and connect with an abundance of support when I am in need.
September is National Recovery Month. This is a month dedicated to promoting the benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for substance use and mental disorders. It celebrates people in recovery, recognizes contributions of treatment, and sends a positive message that recovery is possible. It spreads the word that people can and do recover. These services and the support needed are available on a local, regional, and state level. Each September, thousands or recovery programs and services are shared in an effort to educate the public about recovery. Check out these resources available to you. Also, you can share at meetings, help a newcomer, get involved in service, and make solid connections with your Recovery Family through fellowship.
My recovery journey has evolved over time. At first, going to meetings and not drinking was all I could muster. Next, I found a sponsor and worked the Steps. I needed a Home group, and started service. At first my service work was making coffee, and putting away the books after meetings. Then I started chairing meetings, and building my fellowship with a group of women and men in recovery who were just as determined as I was to stay there. It’s vital to find others that have your same mindset and are not fooling around when it comes to their recovery. I started attending recovery seminars, and listening to podcasts and conferences on recovery. I got a great job in recovery, and started writing about recovery.
Today, I am fully committed to the Recovery process, and my Recovery family. However you choose to engage yourself in your recovery journey…… I just want you to know no matter how bad it gets, what you have been through, how alone you feel, how badly you have been hurt by others or yourself, how much pain you are in, or how close you may think you are to the end….your recovery is possible. In your recovery process you will see the truth, that you are never alone……your Recovery Family will always be there for you.
Patricia V. Pavkovich works for MAP Health Management as a RSS coordinator, Recovery Support for Origins /Hanley in West Palm Beach, Florida and South Padre Island, Texas. Patricia has a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Health Education and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. She has two daughters. Patricia ran the Marine Corp Marathon, is a yoga instructor, and enjoys riding her Harley in her spare time. Her sober date is March 14, 2014.