I have been mulling over a great post by Patrick on personal growth in recovery. here’s an extract (abbreviated slightly by me):
‘In addiction you tried to change reality by medicating yourself. Only now in recovery you are seeking to change yourself while fully accepting your current reality.
The difference is that after you get drunk or high in your addiction you are returned to square one, with nothing to show for it other than a hazy memory of some “fun.” That’s all you get. You don’t grow in addiction when you medicate yourself. You are not achieving any personal growth at all. You remain stagnant.
In recovery when you pursue personal growth, you evolve and grow as a person. You become healthier, happier, stronger in different ways. You build on previous success and become an even better version of yourself over time. And the results and the rewards of this growth are locked into place. You get to keep your progress. You get to hang on to the positive benefits of your growth. Those rewards no longer slip through your fingers like they did during addiction.
To me, this is the biggest difference between addiction and recovery. This is the big game changer. When you are sober in recovery, you are building something. You are locking in your gains. You are iterating into a better version of yourself over time.
Addiction is the opposite of this. During addiction it is more like you are locking in the consequences, the negative rewards. Bad things keep happening over time, and in the long run the consequences of your addiction slowly get worse and worse (sometimes quickly though). But they never get better in the long run. Addiction is progressive and the consequences always trend downward. They always get worse.
Recovery becomes an adventure because, just like during your addiction, you don’t really know what the outcomes are going to be. You can set goals and try to change things in your life, but you don’t really know what your goals are going to look like in a year, in 3 years, in 5 years. You just know that you are going to keep changing and evolving and improving your life in various ways.
And this is exciting. Once you realize that you are on a path of personal growth and that you are committed to it, you will become excited at the prospect of future challenges and rewards.’
I may not know yet what I am building, and I hope it is longer lasting than a spider’s web, but I am pretty damn excited about it! and how incredible is that – to go from thinking of going without booze as a constraint, as a denial, to thinking of it as an unprecedented opportunity for growth?
if you are building recovery today, it will be beautiful. whether day 1 or day gazillion. keep building. however slowly and however difficult it is. because it is worth every effort you put into it, and will repay you a thousandfold.
have a fantastic sober day!