I used substances for 27 years…and now I don’t. That’s the short version. What I like about my story is that it defies convention in many ways. I did not start my recovery voluntarily; I was court-mandated. I did not start my recovery for myself-I did it for my son.
I did not accept that I was powerless – I took control of my recovery and I accept all of the responsibility that comes with that. I have heard that recovery advocacy is not a “sufficient program” of recovery – yet for me, it is a vital part of keeping my head in the game. I have been determined from the beginning to do this my way, and being told that I could not only made me more determined.
My approach to traditional recovery has gone beyond skepticism. I have made it a point to question every aspect of the paradigm of recovery. I have avidly studied the history of recovery, especially the ubiquitous 12-step model. When I first came around and was told not to overthink things, that seemed dangerous to me. This was and is the most important thing I have ever undertaken; you better believe I’m going to think about it.
I have applied critical thinking to every idea I have come across, and evaluated its feasibility and usefulness. I left the 12 step fellowships after three years, and I now live my own recovery. I distilled my formula from 25 principles, 12 steps down to four words:
Live A Good Life.
I can’t think of anything simpler, and richer, than that. I have always believed that true recovery is not an approximation of life or a consolation prize. Full recovery makes me a contender for life’s greatest rewards, and I refuse to settle for anything less. I believe that recovery is fully attainable and not just sustainable.
I try to bring my confidence and my insistence on quality recovery to the work that I do. I have been fortunate enough to work in our field of helping others, and to progress from a program-centered practice to a person-centered one. My approach to my own recovery informs the work that I do with others. For me, it’s all about emphasizing strengths and empowerment.
My best thinking got me here, and my best thinking is keeping me here. There’s no one better to be in charge of my recovery than me.