Why Recovery is So Special

Posted on September 8th, 2011
Posted in Articles

“What makes something special is not just what you have to gain, but what you feel there is to lose.” – Andre Agassi, retired American professional tennis player and former World No.1, generally considered by critics and fellow players to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time (born 1970)

What do we really care about? In our life in recovery, there are undoubtedly many things that we consider a blessing to have achieved, given where we likely came from. We’ve fought hard and overcome much in our journey to sobriety, and that’s part of our treasure trove of things we hold so dear. For some of us, however, just making it to another day is a herculean accomplishment, one that hopefully will get easier as the days go by, but one that we feel lucky to have been able to achieve today, just as it is.

In other words, recovery may seem a bit tenuous to many of us, especially if we are still in early recovery, those first few weeks and months when we don’t have that firm a grasp of what we need to do day in and day out to maintain our sobriety. We go along with the recommendations: attend daily 12-step meetings, work the steps, get a sponsor, avoid triggers, learn how to cope with cravings and urges, watch out for too much stress and try to get adequate sleep and eat the right kinds of foods. It’s actually quite exhausting and certainly takes a great deal of our mental and physical energy.

Still, it feels special to us to be in recovery, that is, if recovery is what we’ve totally committed to. If we just went along with someone else’s directive, if we went into recovery because our family or boss or the courts told us we had to, then we’re not really that determined to make a new life in sobriety. And if that’s the case, then we probably don’t see being clean and sober as that big a deal or that important an accomplishment at all. If that is our outlook, then it’s most likely only a matter of time before we slip and relapse.

But for the majority of us in recovery, the days and weeks, months and years that we remain true to our commitment is a big deal. It is something special. And it’s all the more so because we know just how much we stand to lose the minute we pick up that bottle or start using again.

Our job, family and friends, health, finances, reputation and social standing all could take a disastrous turn. Having been on the brink of ruin before, in more ways than one, we know we really don’t want to go back to that precipice again. The more vivid the picture of our addictive past, the more we recognize just what there is to lose if we slip up in recovery.

Rather than a focus on the negative, however, it’s probably more beneficial to look at the positive outcome from continued sobriety. Specialness is an attraction, something that sets someone or something apart, something to be admired and emulated. It doesn’t really lend itself to feeling a void, although if the thought of losing our sobriety and all that we’ve achieved is what it takes to keep us from taking a step backwards, then, by all means, go for it. Just know that moving forward means always striving to achieve yet another goal, something that will cause us to stretch to achieve it. That, in itself, will help us keep the specialness of recovery firmly in our thoughts.

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