One of the most liberating things I have heard since I have been in recovery came from my mentor and friend Adventure Bob Granger: “Everyone’s recovery is their own.” Since I started this journey almost two and a half years ago, the lingering drive for me has been a furthering and deepening of my understanding of spirituality and where it all fits into what it is we go through addicts, alcoholics, and those suffering from mental illness. It was pressed upon me early on that it was imperative I seek and gain an understanding of a Higher Power, and that without it I may not succeed.
The force that moves me made itself abundantly clear only a few months into sobriety. Having the obsession removed, I have felt personally indebted to this power to spread the message of it’s existence and how it has worked in my life. An almost constant thirst for more knowledge and understanding of this power has blessed me with the experiences I have today and where I know I will be going on my path.
For those of us who had no understanding of a God prior to entering recovery, or had walked away from it entirely, we find ourselves at a crossroads: Is it God who is helping me along, or is it the science behind treatment? Do I medicate my symptoms or do I rely on faith to pull me through? I have personally battled with these questions off and on; further study and experiences change my opinion and beliefs radically at times. Change is inevitable, and I find that in growth, the only constant is change.
My initial belief in being an alcoholic was that I MUST abstain from all forms of alcohol. I am an extremist at times, so no hand sanitizers, mouthwash…you name it. If it had any ounce of alcohol in it, it was my kryptonite. Over time, I eased up on the hand sanitizer— still avoiding it for other reasons today, but I don’t run from it. Prescription medications, painkillers… what about those? I am a motorcyclist and had the experience of going down on my bike last May. Even though I told the doctor I was a recovered alcoholic, I was prescribed Percocet. With ibuprofen not doing the trick, I filled the script and handed the pills over to a trusted friend to dispense to me AS PRESCRIBED. This worked wonders, and I did not even finish the amount given.
Now, the biggest roadblock for me came into play when it came to deepening my spiritual connection with God. What about substances offered during a sacred ceremony? The faith I have in my Higher Power has often waivered due to the world we live in today and the stresses of everyday life. Would I have the strength and the faith to KNOW what was right for me when the time arose? Well, that time came. I was recently baptized into the Eastern Orthodox Catholic faith, and with that comes communion. Taking into one’s body the sacrament of body and blood of Christ, symbolized in bread and wine, was shaky ground and new territory for me. I am an alcoholic. What would happen to me as I took in the wine that was necessary to proclaim my faith? I prayed on it, and the experience was amazing! The faith I had in order to leap and believe that my God was going to continue to hold me was just a miracle to me! I took communion, and I felt fine. Now, it does not mean I am cured. No, I KNOW in my heart I am no longer meant to partake in the recreational form of alcohol. But it has given me a sense of relief and a deeper understanding behind INTENT.
Intention guides me today to help me know how to feel in any given situation. Since I am living in Hawaii, Kava is often offered in place of alcohol at gatherings. I have chosen NOT to indulge in Kava in this manner; it is not for me. I have, unfortunately, offended a couple of locals who did not understand my choice. But what I feel about it, and what holds true to me is what is important in my life today. My intention is behind my acts.
Everyone’s recovery looks different. Some have chosen to take anti-depressants for their stabilization. In the beginning, I was on an array of medications. One day I was moved to flush them all down the toilet and hold fast to my Higher Power. I do not recommend nor advocate this to anyone; it was simply my personal experience and it has worked for me. Not relying on scientific aides means I struggle with certain things that others in recovery may not. I am quick to be distracted, I have waves of emotions and I am sensitive to many things. Training and understanding holistic methods to alleviate some of my symptoms has taken a lot of work and effort. Not everyone is meant to be on that journey. What I study in my spirituality and practice gives me peace daily, so I continue to move in that direction in order to be freer than I already am.
I am aware that this topic may be somewhat taboo in the recovery world, but it is my duty to shed the light on all possibilities and uncover the veils behind the secrets that we may keep. A common belief in recovery is that secrets keep us sick. So, with upmost honesty and candidness, I implore you to dig just a little deeper than you may feel comfortable doing normally to find YOUR truth. I believe in a meld of science and spirituality because my truth tells me they all come from the same thing. That same place inside of us that we all share reminds us of who we really are and who we are becoming. Your personal insights could help someone one day, and we are all in this together.
Love and light!