If you’ve ever been personally victimized by drugs or alcohol, then I’m sure you’re reading this title and muttering under your breath right now. A superpower? It’s a curse! It’s only natural to develop a negative attitude about a disease that’s so easily capable of mass destruction. At times it can even feel like we are being mocked by our addiction. Judging by Instagram, the rest of the world can drink shots all night without passing out in someone’s yard or emailing their boss that his mustache makes him look like a serial killer. When people on television drink they turn into supermodels but when you drink, you cry on the kitchen floor and nap beside the porcelain throne all morning. So, I get it, it’s not fair.
Unfortunately, no one promised life would be fair. We all work with what we’ve got. So, we can’t drink alcohol or else it dismantles our life. Everyone has their problems and this one is ours. But what if we reframed that? What if it wasn’t a problem? What if this disease is actually here to serve us? What would happen if we decided right now to change our mindset about what recovery means? Instead of feeling bitter that we are missing out on something, maybe it’s an opportunity for us to have more than we ever imagined. Stick with me.
You’re Great at Getting What You Want
Addicts have an indisputable aptitude for getting what they want. Any time I wanted to get hammered, I made it happen regardless of my circumstances. I could be anywhere, I’d hide it in water bottles, sunscreen bottles, chunky bracelets, you name it. One time after a party, I got so intoxicated I woke up in a bush alone with no shoes, no wallet, no phone, and a stick through my foot. I emerged to find all the liquor stores closed but I still found a way to get my hands on some more whiskey that night. For better or worse. In fact, there were hundreds of experiences like that in my drinking days. That’s not a humble brag, I was very clearly a woman unhinged.
That ravenous thirst to get what you desire doesn’t go away just because you’ve given up drinking and you’re in recovery. The pining to drink may fade but it gets replaced with other things. There are a lot of “fanatics” in recovery, we get fixated on hobbies and ideas easily. We take an art class and then cover every wall in the house. We learn how to knit and suddenly every cat in the neighborhood has a sweater. A buddy starts exercising and the next time you see him, he’s a total meat head and training for the Olympics. He’s forty-three so that seems like a fantasy but if anyone is going to decide to be an Olympic athlete at age forty-three and succeed, it’s a former addict. You have incredible willpower, or you wouldn’t be reading this right now.
When I got sober, I quit smoking, coffee, and sleeping pills, returned to the gym, terminated a toxic relationship, ended negative friendships, started a business, and wrote a book all in fifteen months. I felt unstoppable. I just couldn’t quit going after what I desired. I saw a new vision for myself that didn’t revolve around drinking, and I had to have it. Could this obsessive behavior be considered cross dependency? Perhaps. It’s certainly trading in one addiction for another which is common. However, if it gets you excited and you’re healthy and you have purpose in your life, who gives a damn. Life is meant to be enjoyed. We all have our vices. Some people binge the sauce, others binge Netflix. Some people pick up heavy things and put them down. We still must live.
You Are a Self-Improvement Junkie
Addiction recovery requires a lot of excess self-examination. To maintain stability in your recovery you are forced to look at all the areas in your life and identify what is no longer working. You must acknowledge your mistakes, character flaws and bad habits. You need to make amends for your wrongdoings and have a plan in place to prevent you from making the same blunders again. A lot of effort goes into processing your past and learning coping skills to prevent relapse. You know you are at risk of spiraling, so a regular part of your routine is to address the things in your life that you’d rather shove under the rug and forget about. You can’t make self-destructive decisions anymore just because you had a bad day. Every day you work to treat yourself and others better and in turn life treats you better, too.
You Are a Light for Someone Else
A common trait I’ve noticed in recovery is how sensitive and empathetic the community is. We feel everything deeply which can sink us if we dwell too much on negative emotions. We can get trapped thinking about upsetting things for too long then cope with that in harmful ways. However, if we can feel pain deeply then we can feel joy and gratitude deeply too.
When you’ve been floundering for a long time and you pull yourself out of it, there is nothing greater than when you finally notice the love that surrounds us. The flowers are more fragrant, the strawberries are sweeter, the butterflies are drawn to your energy and dance on your shoulders. When you find gratitude in everything, the world opens up, and everything is magic. When you are grateful for the stars, your morning tea, your dog chasing her tail, the way grass feels between your toes- you begin to attract more goodness into your life. The more grateful you feel, the more you’ll receive to be grateful for.
Next time you’re having a day when everything is going wrong, write a list of everything you are grateful for no matter how big or small. In this energy, you are able to be present. When we are happy in the present, we can reach out and lift others up with us. Your ability to find your way out of the darkness will be the guiding light someone else needs to find their way out, too. Your story can inspire hope for someone that thinks they don’t have strength to get better. You prove that anything is possible.