After years of living with painful addictions and mental health issues, we’re inclined to think that our recovery will be straightforward and simple, based on a foundation of sobriety, committed abstinence from our addictive substance or behavior. While sobriety is a large part of recovery, it is only one part. Our recovery is not a week or a month or a year of abstinence following completion of a treatment program. It’s not just committing to attending a weekly support group meeting or checking in with our sponsor. It’s all of these things and so much more. Our recovery is a journey, made up of all the work we’ll do to heal ourselves from our deepest wounds. Our recovery journey is all the highs and lows, the exhilaration of reaching a sobriety goal, the bitter disappointment of relapsing. It is the pride we feel in our accomplishments, such as successfully detoxing and finishing rehab, but it is also the shame and sadness we feel when we give into an addictive urge.

Our journey is all the many pieces of our healing work. Our journey is holding up a mirror to look at ourselves and our lives with more clarity, honesty and transparency. It forces us to be vulnerable, to be humble, and to open our hearts. Our journey is the process of looking at all our relationships, to analyze why and how we manifested them into our lives. Did we attract other people suffering from self-hate and insecurity to show us our similar unresolved issues? Have we attracted relationships full of conflict that reflects our inner turmoil? Are we repeating the same cycles of struggle and confusion because we haven’t become mindful of the limiting beliefs we’re carrying about ourselves that are coloring everything we do? Do we have unhealed fears causing us to limit ourselves and hold ourselves back? Our journey is the rigorous process of examining all of it, every part of who we are, up close and personal, with more courage and resilience than we may think we have.

When we see our lives as full of shame, remorse and regret, we miss out on all the lessons we’re meant to be learning. Every experience, everything that has caused us pain, is a step in our evolution from illness to wellness, from self-hate to self-love, from self-rejection to self-acceptance. We don’t yet see all the meaning behind our life story. We haven’t yet found the purpose behind our suffering. All we see is that we feel ashamed of ourselves. We suffer from depression and anxiety, intense feelings of hopelessness, fear and despair. We feel alone and lost, scared of the truth of who we are. We feel strong fears that we’re inadequate, unworthy and unlovable.

Our recovery journey is the process of facing these painful fears and pushing ourselves onward and upward, transcending the limitations of our fear. Our journey is made up of the moment we admit to ourselves that we have a problem, the moment we decide to reach out for help, the moment we stop hiding our illness as a shameful secret. Our journey is our decision, finally, to love ourselves. It’s our choice to commit to our healing. It’s the moment we realize we must prioritize our wellness and our inner peace if we want to survive. It’s the moment we finally hit rock bottom and see that our lives have become totally unmanageable and our pain unbearable. Our journey is made up of all these fleeting moments, events that may pass us by in an instant, but which are so significant they make up the basis for our transformation.

Our journey is the process of questioning ourselves, of being filled with self-doubt and searching for the meaning in our lives. It is our uncertainty and our ambivalence, our confusion and our angst. Will we be able to do the work? Will we be strong enough to resist temptation? Will we heal our pain? Will we be able to muster the courage to do the work we need to do to become healthier, happier, more whole versions of ourselves? Our recovery forces us to learn ourselves and communicate with ourselves on a deeper, more intimate level. We realize we can’t run from ourselves anymore. Our denial is only delaying our healing and preventing us from getting better. Our coping mechanisms when living with addiction and mental health issues have been based on avoiding feeling the full weight of our emotions. Our recovery journey asks that we give up our default coping mechanisms, in order to really feel our feelings so that we can work to heal them. It invites us to find healthier ways of coping with our anxiety, our sadness, our loneliness and boredom, our lack of fulfillment and satisfaction with our lives. It pushes us to be honest with ourselves in how we’re dealing with our thoughts and feelings. It shows us that being anything other than authentically who we truly are will only prolong our suffering.

Our recovery journey is all the little pieces, all the hard work, all the crying sessions and hugs and screams. It starts when we’ve successfully detoxed from our drug or behavior of choice, but it is a lifelong process full of challenge and transcendence, that might be the most beautiful journey we ever take in our lives.

Established in 1939, High Watch is the world’s first 12-Step treatment center. Every individual who walks through our doors joins a definitive culture of compassion, dignity, and respect from a genuinely caring staff dedicated to seeing the disease of addiction find remission. Providing proven therapeutic approaches and comprehensive 12-Step education, patients leave High Watch with the confidence to maintain abstinence and live a healthy, happy, sober life. Start your journey today by calling 860.927.3772.