Recovery From Anything Equals a Healthier You

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I was in the Apple store earlier this week (and came out happy, but poor) and had a really cool conversation with Colten, my 20-something salesman, about the stigma of addiction recovery.  He was so surprised to learn that the woman standing before him was in recovery because, well, I wasn’t what he imagined a person in recovery would look like.

I think he thought I would be taller.

Actually, it was a terrific educational moment and after he loaded my new iMac in my car, Colten thanked me for sharing my story with him.  I said it was good of him to inquire about how I got into my line of work.

Then I asked Colten to tell a few of his friends that he’d talked to a woman in recovery that day.  Imagine how many conversations would start if those of us in recovery shared a bit of our story with one or two other people.

I know a person who . . .

Without fail, people tell me about someone they know who has addiction or is in recovery.  For Colten, it was a buddy who is sober and doing well.  But there for a while, it was ugly, he said, no doubt uglier because of shame or misinformation.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we talked about addiction and recovery without shame attached?

Truth is, everybody is recovering from something–that’s an ongoing conversation among some friends and me these days.  This kind of public dialog taking place on social media and face-to-face has great implications for the health of individuals, communities and society as a whole.

I started to insert a disclaimer here about the distinction between recovery from substance addiction, or drugs and alcohol, but decided not to.  That so-called distinction invites separation and degrees of recovery.  Any division is no good for the people trying to recover; in fact, it could end their desire for a more healthy lifestyle.

Stop with the comparisons and offer up inclusiveness

“I spilled more booze than you drank, kid.”  Sound familiar?  I heard that kind of backhanded support when I entered recovery.

What did I learn?  A couple of things:  1) There are people in recovery with enormous egos.  No shock there, right? 2) That it was up to me whether I wanted to lean on the distinction I’d been given–High Bottom Beth–or accept that just like the chronic whiskey spiller, I was addicted to alcohol but wanted recovery.

Twenty three years ago this month I chose the latter.  But here’s my point–in the long stretch of time since May of 1991 I’ve come to understand that there are other substances and behaviors to which I am addicted.  These things are unhealthy for me and I want to recover from being dependent on them.

I’ll not enumerate them here because I’d like for there to be no parameters around this particular conversation about recovery and health.

As a people, we’re competitive.  Who doesn’t like to think she’s more than you in some way?  I’m asking you to put competition aside and embrace a notion of global holistic health as a result of recovery from whatever you think causes dis-ease for you.

Can we do that?  Let’s grow in health together and accept each person’s desired recovery path.  What does a healthy recovery mean for you?

Photo courtesy of hotblack

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  1. LaDonna says:

    Hey Beth, I LOVE this post. It gets at the inclusiveness and common ground between all of us. Life can become unmanageable for lots of reasons including lots of different kinds of addiction, chief among them the addiction of “control” versus seeking a life of balance.

    Anne Wilson Schaef wrote back in the late 80’s that addictive behaviors are the norm in our society and that our society itself functions as an active addict. I see evidence of it everyday from politics to business to poverty and in my own life experience.

    Personally, I know what it is to be in recovery from an unhealthy relationship only to relapse into another unhealthy relationship and I know I’m not alone in this. I know what it is to be in recovery from poor eating habits by way of dieting only to lose the weight and then relapse into old habits once again, gaining all the weight back and then some. Its the old diet versus healthy balance lifestyle (recovery). I think there’s a lot of unnoticed recovery going on in part because we don’t call it recovery and in part because people would be hesitant to do so because of the stigma. Maybe one way to reduce the stigma is open up the notion of recovery much broader, as you have done, and realize we’re all recovering from something so lets respect it, cherish it and learn from these many ways and means (practices).

    I love this more open way of thinking about recovery and I’m so excited you are writing about it. I think recovery is about LIFE and how we live it in a way that encourages us and others to thrive. IMHO

    • Beth says:

      Ah, the ‘ole controlling addiction. Guilty as charged, ma’am.

      I love the way you describe recovery as a “healthy balance lifestyle,” LaDonna. And thank you for affirming my idea that recovery is everywhere and among everyone, not just in the form of recovery from addiction, but often as recovery from destructive attitudes, beliefs and actions. You’re right, we could open a door and let in a beautiful breeze if we started seeing recovery in a new light, and more, recognizing it without stigma or judgment.

      Thank you for sharing a bit of your recovery journey–let’s keep kickin’ that door open wider and wider!

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