Years ago, I got a DUI and was forced by my family to go to treatment. I thought that my life was over. I thought that it was over both personally and professionally. I thought that I would never have fun again. I thought that I would lose everything and never work again. Back then, I did not realize that there was a whole team of people dedicated to my success. I did not recognize at that time that my life was about to enter its best phase. Ever.
After being released from treatment, I enrolled in the Recovering Professional Program. The program put structure back into my life with a combination of monitoring, meetings and reports. All of the empty time that I had previously spent abusing, I now spent in fellowship with other professionals facing the same problems. In addition, going to non-professional meetings allowed me to meet people, eliminating the isolation that I had suffered previously. My life became filled with friendships.
My first year of recovery was full of rose-colored glasses. Everything had been so bad for so long that it seemed as if my life (despite the problems I created for myself) had gotten better. Going forward from that first year, however, life caught up with me. I had to deal with illnesses in the family, the deaths of parents and others close to me and rearing teenagers. Looking back on it, I cannot imagine that I would have been there for any of the special people in my life if I had continued with my active addiction.
As it was, while all was not perfect, I was able to be a good husband, father, son and friend to those in my life. Not only did I regain the respect of my colleagues, but I also regained the respect of my family. Most importantly, I regained my self-respect.
They say that as you progress in addiction, you progressively shrink your circle from acquaintances to colleagues, to friends, to family and ultimately to yourself. Yet as recovery begins, the reverse progression, like the blooming of a flower, is what occurs. First, you discover – sometimes for the very first time – who you really are. This happened in my case. Then, you rediscover family and friends. Then, you reenter a wider community with colleagues and strangers. But, if you are like me, you do it with much less fear and self-loathing. And, without the need to confront the world with a drug or a drink.
The path is there. There are many people who are pulling for your success. But, only you can take that first step. Having been in your shoes, I pray that you do.