“Hi, my name’s Kyle and I’m an alcoholic…”
I’ve said those words countless times in meetings, to counselors, and mental health professionals. During certain phases of the substance abuse recovery journey, I think it is incredibly valuable to deeply and fundamentally accept your personal failures. Failure to do so is wildly dangerous and a quick road to relapse. Accepting the depth and severity of my own actions and flaws allowed me to change my thinking and my relationship with alcohol. I’m thankful to have been able to walk that path.
It took a while before I began to feel stifled by the labels: addict, alcoholic, failure. It took some more time to identify my unhappiness with substance abuse recovery programs; the unhappiness I finally identified was the fundamental hopelessness at their core. They seem to be built on the idea that addicts are broken and can never be whole again. Built on the idea that management of symptoms is our best outcome and only option. As I spent more time in recovery and realized the strength of the connection between substance abuse and mental health, I began to wonder if there wasn’t a better way for addicts to think about themselves. Shame, guilt, and fear are powerful motivators, valuable tools for some addicts to help avoid relapse…but I felt that there had to be something more.
During my time in in-patient recovery with the VA I began to glimpse that something. I, and a few others, started meeting up every day to play volleyball and began to invite others to join us. Watching veterans and addicts playing their hearts out and laughing with new friends without a thought for their failures finally brought it all into focus.
“Hi, I’m Kyle, and I like volleyball and relaxed afternoons with friends. I like putting down the weight of my failures and enjoying activities not because they keep me sober, but because there is a huge part of me and every other addict that has NOTHING to do with our substance abuse.”
Within the substance abuse recovery community, EVERYTHING has to do with addiction. Every meeting, every call, every question asked. Addiction is all-consuming, but part of the recovery journey is to discover and re-discover the parts of ourselves to which drugs and alcohol are completely irrelevant.
After completing my time in in-patient recovery, I returned to the Seattle area and began to try and find a group that could match my ideals and hopes for the future. Thankfully, I found Recovery Beyond.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet wonderful people and start friendships. I’ve climbed mountains I hadn’t and learned to play tennis. I’ve begun to enjoy parts of my life I thought I might never be able to and parts I’d left behind.
I’ve walked the road of recovery for a long time now, and now I’m where I’d like to be, beyond.