A Letter to My Early Recovery Self
Ah early recovery, a time of great highs and lows, an emotional rollercoaster, some say. For others it’s a lack of emotion, anhedonia. For still others, it’s a mix of both. It’s a confusing time. A time when our greatest comfort and only coping skill has been taken.
I can look back now and see early recovery through the lens of experience. Here are some things I wish I could tell my past self:
Dear Disaster McMessy,
You’re focusing on all the wrong things right now. The little frustrations day-to-day- don’t let those get to you. Soon, this will all be in the past. You won’t have rules and restrictions and drug tests. You’ll have to regulate yourself. You need to focus on the bigger picture here: get what you need from therapy, be grateful for the routine, you’ll carry that with you when you go, and realize this is just a short stop on the way to the rest of your life.
Don’t get into a relationship: This is a big one. Do not look for validation in romantic entanglements. Any relationship you start now will end in a mess. Trust me. I know. This mess will throw you into a depression, and you will seriously consider relapse. It will not be pretty. Plus, you’ll miss out on the chance to bond with women in your early days and just have fun. You’ll miss out on a lot of recovery social events, and you’ll be bummed about this later. When you’re back to working a full-time job and living on your own, you will wish you had taken the time to enjoy the freedom from drugs and alcohol and freedom from the daily grind at the same time. You’ll wish you had expanded your social circle.
Get going in your recovery, right away. Don’t waste time with this. Get a sponsor, start working the steps ASAP. The longer you put this off, the longer you are going to be on this emotional roller coaster. I can’t express to you the relief you’ll feel when you finish the 12 steps, but trust me, you want it as soon as you can possibly get it. Oh, and stop making big decisions without talking to your sponsor, mmkay? This is how you end up homeless at 5 months sober. Dummy.
Try to start eating well and get some exercise. I know it’s tempting to just eat everything in sight because you haven’t been properly hungry or really tasted food for a long time, but don’t go overboard. Get some fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet. Go for a walk. These seem like inconsequential things right now, but they will help you a lot. You will be amazed at how much better you feel once you start to do them. Fast food and energy drinks are not your friends. They are making you feel like garbage.
Finally, and most importantly, everything is going to be ok. You are dealing with a lot of regret right now; shame, resentment, fear, but it’s all going to be just fine. Its going to work out. You will have a chance to clear away the wreckage of your past. You will get everything back you lost, plus much more. You will know peace. You have obstacles in your future, life will show up, but everything will be ok. Remember that. Even your darkest days will lead to some of your greatest triumphs. Just keep your feet moving. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. When you’re upset and don’t know what to do, focus on your program, and keep trucking. It will all work out. I promise.
You, at 6 years sober.