I have been sober for nearly 4 years, by god’s grace, before that however I was a chronic relapser. I lived the cycle between treatment, halfway and homelessness for years. I wanted so bad to get sober but that’s the thing about recovery, wanting it is not enough, if it were that easy everyone would get sober. My issue was always in the action department, I would talk about what I was going to do constantly and when the time came to do it I always came up short. The unfortunate thing about recovery is that a lot of people you meet at the start of your journey who are starting as well, don’t make it. Relapse rates are are quite high and overdose deaths are at an all time high in America. The fortunate thing is that there is a reason why people relapse, you don’t get sober because you were lucky you get sober because you did what you were required to do in order to live a sober life. I’ll never forget my last treatment center, a man named Bruce said it to me so perfectly, I needed to blaze my own path in recovery.
There was so much depth and weight to that statement that resonated with me. It had so many meanings all at once. For one, we can not compare our sobriety or journey in recovery to anyone else’s. We as humans all have our own intricate unique lives, our own issues, our own strengths and weaknesses. It is only natural that the path we walk in recovery will be uniquely our path and like no one else’s. Before we decide to walk down any type of path in recovery we must first do something vital, we must surrender.
What does surrender mean to you? To me I like to keep it very simple, surrender to me means my life is no longer up to me. I had spent so many years of my life trying to control everything and do it ‘my way’ and my history has shown that whenever I did that during my addiction things went horrible, even when I had the best intentions. I had also spent many years trying to get sober on my terms. Doing it my way always led me back to the drug no matter how convinced I was that I wanted to get and stay sober. There was something about relying on my own mind that made it impossible to stay clean. Ultimately, when I truly internalized that I was powerless and that I myself could not get me sober, and was ready to accept complete guidance in my life from others who knew better, my life changed forever.
Blazing my own path also had a lot to do with who I surround myself with. When you enter early recovery you are going to meet a lot of people who are in the same boat. I personally lived in a sober living facility with 6 other men in early recovery. You hope that everyone living in a sober living would be doing the right thing, walking the right path on the way to freedom. If you have any experience in halfway houses however you know that to be false. Many of the people I lived with in those settings were unmotivated and had their priorities very mixed up. The gym, girls and money were more important than doing what they had to in order to get their life back on track. It was made clear to me that if I wanted to truly get sober, which I did, I was going to have to separate myself from the group I lived with most likely. On nights when they were planning on going out to have some fun or stay in to watch the game, I had to make sure I was going to my meeting, meeting my sponsor, doing step work, things like that. It was such great advice because that is precisely what happened.
Once I started blazing my own path in recovery, the benefits occurred quickly. Knowing I was doing the right thing finally and not being all talk but actually taking action was tremendously fulfilling. There were plenty of days where my roommates would try to get me to stay home or go out somewhere rather than doing what I was supposed to do and I always turned it down and set out to do what I was supposed to do that day. My treatment center I went to had an alumni program, so while doing the right things I met many other people who were in early recovery but were dead set on staying sober, and those became my friends as well as many other men with years sober. My first year in recovery was so simple yet effective. It was the best year of my life and I had nothing to do with it. I simply set out to find someone who I trusted to guide me, did what they said, and never took my eyes off the prize and a life quickly began to form around me.
The people who get sober aren’t those who want it or need it, it is for people that do it. What does blazing your own trail in recovery mean to you? What can you do to get started on your own unique path? The answers are within you but that does not mean you can do it yourself. You get in what you put out in recovery. Forever I took half measures and got next to nothing in return. This time I put my heart and soul while walking my path and I got a beautiful, fulfilling life in return. Find out what your path should be and start walking it, it will be the greatest thing you ever do in your life.